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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich announces statewide town hall meetings to address underage drinking
Department of Human Services to organize events to raise awareness, mobilize communities and initiate plans to address teen drinking

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. today announced the commencement of a second series of community forums on teen alcohol use in more than 50 Illinois communities.  The forums will be held through April 4.  
 
Officially called, Underage Drinking Prevention: Town Hall Meetings, the forums are part of a national effort to increase understanding and awareness of underage drinking and its consequences, and to encourage individuals, families and communities to address the problem.
 
“Alcohol continues to be the number one drug problem in Illinois and is a serious threat to the health and safety of our young people,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “We encourage all citizens to become involved and join in the town hall meetings in their communities.  Together we can find solutions to underage drinking and help prevent the senseless tragedies associated with teen use.”
 
According to IDHS statistics, more than 48,000 Illinoisans including 3,100 youth received treatment for alcohol addiction at state-funded programs last year.  More than two-thirds of Illinois teenagers report use of alcohol and one quarter of Illinois high school seniors admit they have driven a car while under influence of alcohol.  Half of all fatal automobile crashes involving teenagers are alcohol-related.    
 
These local meetings will give communities the opportunity to come together and discuss the extent and nature of the problem, discuss the latest research on underage drinking and its impact on both individuals and communities. The forums are also designed to get valuable community input on how each community implement the recommendations in The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to prevent underage alcohol use.
 
 
The IDHS Division of Community Health and Prevention is organizing the 58 town hall meetings with assistance from local community leaders and substance abuse prevention experts.  The town meetings are being funded through a grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  All participating communities will receive a $500.00 stipend and the Community Briefing Prevention Toolkit: Town Hall Meetings and collateral DVD training on how to conduct a town hall meeting, a facilitator’s guide, and informational handouts.
 
“We want to build on the results of the previous town hall meetings and be proactive in engaging youth and families as well as community members in prevention,” said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.  “Whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, retailer, clergy member or just a concerned citizen, you can help us in developing comprehensive and consistent interventions to reduce underage drinking.”   
 
The mission of the DHS Division of Community Health and Prevention Office of Prevention is to promote and implement coordinated, innovative community-based prevention strategies and provide a wide range of comprehensive prevention efforts designed to prevent domestic violence; alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse; and juvenile delinquency.
 
For a list of the Illinois communities participating in the town hall meetings, visit  www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.
 
Albion              Edwards County Project Success Coalition                              
Aurora             Aurora East CUSD #311
                        Breaking Free (along with the City of Aurora)
Barrington        Barrington Area Community Drug Coalition
Beardstown      Cass County Mental Health Association for Cass County Interagency Council
Belvidere          Boone County Health Department – Boone County Drug Free Coalition
Chicago            A Knock at Midnight
                        ABJ community Services, Inc.
                        Albany Park Community Center
                        Alternatives, Inc.
                        Asian Health Coalition of Illinois
                        Bobby E. Wright Community Mental Health Center
                        Chicago Public Schools, District #299
                        Habilitative Systems, Inc.
                        Human Resource Development Institute, Inc.
                        SGA Youth and Family Services
                        South Side Help Center
                        The Miracle Center at the Gap Center
                        The Prevention Partnership, Inc.
                        Youth Outreach Services
                        Austin Town Hall
Clinton             Dewitt county Human Resource Center
Coal City          Community Cares Initiative
Danville            Vermilion Prevention Coalition
Decatur            Decatur Community Partnership
East Moline      Stark County rural mental Health Task Force
Elgin                 Elgin Drug and Gang Task Force
Eureka             Woodford County Health Department
Evanston          PEER Services
Fairfield            Southeastern Illinois Counseling Center (for WAYC-UP Coalition
Freeport           FHN JoDaviess County Alcohol and Other Substances Coalition
Galesburg         Bridgeway, Inc.
Granite City      Coordinated Youth and Human Services
Grayslake         Lake County Underage Drinking Task Force
Homewood      South Suburban Prevention Coalition
Hopkins Park   Communication Outreach Committee
Kewanee          Greater Kewanee Drug and Alcohol
Lincolnshire      Stevenson Community P.R.O.U.D.
Marion             Franklin-Williamson Human Services (Marion Partnership for Youth)
Mattoon           I Sing the Body Electric
McHenry          McHenry Area Character Counts! Coalition
Mt. Carroll       Jo-Carroll Extension – Carroll County Substance Abuse Education Coalition  
Mt. Vernon      Jefferson County Board
Murphysboro   Jackson County UI Extension Office (Murphysboro Youth and Recreation Center  
Paris                 CAMA, Inc.
Park Ridge       Maine Community Youth Assistance Foundation
Paxton Ford County Coalition Against Family Violence
Pontiac             Illinois Commission on Children and Youth
Princeton          Youth Development Coalition
Quincy             Adams County Health Department
Rockford          City of Rockford Human Services Department - Drug Free Rockford
                        Martin Luther King Jr. Services Area Project
Springfield        ILCAAP for Sangamon County Coalition on Underage Drinking
Tremont           Tazewell County Health Department
Tuscola            Douglas County Health Department – Douglas County RPG     
Waukegan        Lake County Health Department 
Wilmington       Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community
 


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