VILLA GROVE – The State of Illinois announced today at Villa Grove High School that students from the eastern Illinois school won the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s (ILCC) statewide video public service announcement (PSA) contest. The announcement ceremony at the Douglas County school also served as the statewide kickoff for this spring’s YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! underage drinking awareness campaign.
Douglas County Chairman Chuck Knox, Villa Grove Mayor Terrance Harbin, and other VIP’s joined hundreds of students from both Villa Grove Junior and Senior high schools to watch the first public viewing of this winning 30-second spot. The attendees also listened to comments from the contest-winning students, their adult contributors, and other state and local dignitaries. Finally, a proclamation was read from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn honoring the winning students and declaring April 23, 2014 as YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! day in Illinois.
“We all enjoyed being involved in the creative process,” says Emmaline Cler, a Villa Grove High School sophomore, who was part of the student production team. “But creating the video was also a valuable learning experience. It showed us how to change negative behavior with positive actions.”
Adds her sister, sophomore Laura Cler, who was also part of the winning team: “We all hear parents say that kids just don’t listen to them, but oftentimes the reverse is true. If this video helps adults make better decisions, then we did our job.”
The PSA’s powerful visual message was enhanced and accompanied by an original score performed and written by fellow Villa Grove High School sophomore Brandon Hauserberger. The other winning Villa Grove High School students were sophomores Abby Marlar, Abby Miller, Isaiah Poe, Jay Whitney, Nicole Bolcabos, Aliyah Edwards, and senior Brandon Luttrell. The winning video is available at www.YourActionMatter.org.
The PSA will run on television stations throughout the state this fall thanks to an ILCC parental responsibility grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services and additional support from the ILCC’s statewide prevention partners.
“Importantly, the message created by Villa Grove High School students is pertinent to parents of all teens, particularly those at the younger age range,” says ILCC Executive Director Gloria Materre, noting that the ILCC grant specifically focuses on parents of 8th graders. “We want parents to start the conversation before their kids begin experimenting with alcohol.”
The PSA is just as relevant for parents of older teens, especially with prom and graduation parties imminent.
“This message has to get out, loud and strong,” says Dr. Mary Ann Manos, superintendent for Villa Grove School District 302 and high school principal. “Villa Grove kids know that drinking and driving kills and they have a lot to say to their generation about personal responsibility. This video will help them communicate with all ages throughout the entire state.”
Leading the students on their creative journey was Villa Grove School District’s Noreen Acton. “The goal of the project was to help us all realize the importance of underage drinking prevention,” notes Acton, the athletic director for both Villa Grove Junior and Senior high schools. “As a parent of a middle school child myself, my hope is that this student-driven project will ultimately help adults make more informed decisions in regards to allowing alcohol use by minors.”
Also assisting the students with equipment and technical support was Georgia Hillard, program coordinator for I Sing the Body Electric at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. The Body Electric program incorporates the arts to inform adolescents on the importance of making a healthy lifestyle.
“We recently completed administering the Illinois Youth Survey to collect substance use data by 10th and 12th graders, so the video contest was a very timely and relevant project,” relays Hillard. “Ms. Acton recognized that she had a very creative and responsible group of students, and was eager to participate.”
Reviewing the contest submissions and selecting the winning video was a 15-member judging panel consisting of key stakeholders in the prevention field, at the local level, and in the liquor industry (see “Partners in Prevention” in attached article for the list of panel members).
“I was quite impressed by the quality and effectiveness of all the video submissions,” says Burke Beverage’s Nolan Burke, a judging panelist. “It was quite difficult choosing just one winner, but we all believed the winning video would have the biggest impact on its audience.”
As they did last spring, Burke Beverage and its fellow Illinois MillerCoors beer distributors will again deliver YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! materials to all their statewide retail clients, thanks to the support and assistance of MillerCoors in this educational effort.