Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prevention program on registry of effective practices

The Wood County Educational Service Center's Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs program has been listed on the Ohio Registry of Effective Practices.

Learn more at http://www.units.muohio.edu/csbmhp/network/wcesc.html

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Talk is not just a four-letter word

So often, parents and teens don’t know how to talk to each other. Simple discussions quickly turn into arguments and confrontations.

Dialogue Night has been scheduled at Eastwood High School Thursday night in an attempt to change that.

Dialogue Night is an activity funded by the Reducing Alcohol Abuse in Secondary Schools (RAASS) grant from the Wood County Educational Service Center. It will be offered at schools throughout the county to teach parents and teens how to talk and listen to each other about a variety of subjects in a calm, respectful manner.

During Dialogue Nights, parents and their children are separated into different groups so they each have the opportunity to speak freely about the subjects. Each group has both a youth and adult facilitator to ensure all parties feel listened to and their opinions are valued, not challenged.

Topics are chosen by teens from the high school, as well as by adults from the community, and cover a wide range of current subjects. It is the goal of Dialogue Night that a conversational comfort level will be reached and parents and teens will consequently be more inclined to talk together in the future.

“There are no winners or losers,” said Debbie Marinik, the community organizer for the Reducing Alcohol Abuse in Secondary Schools (RAASS) grant through the Wood County Educational Service Center. It’s not about one person’s opinion being better than another persons’. It’s about being heard and leaving Dialogue Night feeling that their opinions have been valued.”

“One of the things we know is that parent opinion is very important to teens when they are making decisions that can effect their whole lives,” she continued. “Yet so frequently, teens and their parents have a very difficult time trying to broach important topics without pushing each others buttons and starting a major disagreement.

Dialogue Night will be held in the Eastwood High School library from 7 to 9 p.m.

Additional dialogue nights have been scheduled for:
• Dec. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Perrysburg High School, in the commons area
• Dec. 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Rossford Recreation Center, 400 Dixie Hwy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Joel Penton teams with parents to tackle issues

JERRY CITY -- Former Ohio State University defensive tackle Joel Penton will share his positive message of commitment and standing your ground with students in Wood County tonight at the Elmwood Community Center.

In October, he brought this same message to students, parents and community and school leaders, at a forum and presentations throughout Wood County. He is returning this week to share his message with even more people.

He tells the story about how he made his commitment to football in seventh grade and surrounded himself with friends who had similar commitments. Those friends promised each other to not get involved in “the wrong things,” and they remained successful until one of them went out with another group of friends and got drunk.

One by one, Penton’s friends continued to choose activities that interfered with their commitment to football until only Penton was left. Despite being treated poorly by his friends and other students in his school, he kept to his commitment to football and found new friends.

“It’s real and it’s pervasive,” Penton said in October of alcohol abuse in schools. “These kids that come up and talk to me and pour their hearts out to me are the kids who are going through the same thing I went through. In my school it was alcohol. In other places, you can fill in the blank.”

He told the story of a girl at a school “about an hour from here” who was in the same situation, except instead of alcohol, the drug of choice was cocaine.

Penton, age 26, also offered advice to parents.

“It is possible for students to make responsible decisions, so do not lose hope,” he told them. “The influence of friends is real. Pay attention to who your child’s friends are.”

“My parents played the biggest role in my ability to make the right choices,” he continued. Their obvious love for me wasn’t conditional.”

“As much as friends can be a negative influence, they can be a positive influence, Penton told the students who attended the discussion. “One of my biggest regrets from when I was in high school is that I was so focused on keeping myself out of alcohol that I didn’t help my friends get out of it. You guys have a lot of power.”

Tonight’s community forum will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Elmwood Community Center, located at 7650 Jerry City Road. The public is invited to attend.

A pizza supper will be provided following the community forum.

The second half of the evening, a concert by Ryan Holliday, will be sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He will perform from 7 to 8 p.m.

He also will give presentations to students throughout the week, including visits to:
• Northwood High School Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 10:15 a.m.
• Northwood Middle School Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 1 p.m.
• Bowling Green High School Thursday, Nov. 19 at 8:30 a.m.
• All Saints Middle School Thursday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wood County alcohol prevention task force formed

It just takes someone to start.

That was the message and the driving force behind the first meeting of the Committees Mobilizing for Change in Alcohol Task Force Wednesday night.

The meeting was held at the Wood County Educational Service Center in Bowling Green, and brought together residents and officials from many different communities throughout the county to discuss ways to decrease teen use of alcohol.

Statistics presented by Dr. Bill Ivoska, vice president of student services at Owens Community College show that peer disapproval decreases as teens get older and use increases. The statistics also show that tobacco and alcohol use among youth has steadily declined since 2004.

Dr. Ivoska said there are three variables that contribute to student use of alcohol:
1. Peer disapproval: the greater the perception a student has that his or her friends disapprove of their use, the less likely and less often that student actually will use.
2. Fear of harm: Anti-smoking campaigns have been effective in showing the harmful effects of tobacco use. However, alcohol is so commonplace and accepted by society that it is difficult to convince teens that there are harmful effects. Showing the potential outcome of alcohol use may help decrease its use.
3. Accessibility: From businesses that furnish alcohol to underage youth to unlocked liquor cabinets and stocked refrigerators at home, the easier alcohol is to obtain, the increase the risk of use and frequency of use.

Larry Mershman the executive director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board in Wood County, said that work in school started 25 years ago with one on-site trying to reach 18,000 students in Wood County.

It has since grown in funding and in size, with 11 on-sites working in most school districts in Wood County.

“It’s not an answer to all of the problems in all of the schools. It’s an opportunity … we have to make a difference,” said Mershman. “It’s an opportunity to the districts to make a change.”

He added that for every $1 spent on prevention saves $25 in treatment.

“If you really want to work on prevention, it really takes everyone in the community,” said Debbie Marinik the community organizer for the Reducing Alcohol Abuse in Secondary Schools (RAASS) grant through the Wood County Educational Service Center.

Parents, students and community leaders then broke into groups to discuss ways in which to change community perception of alcohol use in a way that would decrease underage use.

After the small group brainstorming and discussion, the groups shared their ideas, which included:
• Ways to increase parental involvement
• Launching a media campaign
• Changing public policy
• Getting teachers and students more involved in prevention and intervention
• Creating more alternative activities for youth
• Create a “new cool” for teens that involves a socially-accepted non-alcoholic stand.

The discussions have only just begun. The community is invited to the next task force meeting, which will be held Jan. 26, from 7 to 8 p.m. During that meeting, task force members will decide what projects to tackle first, and how to go about accomplishing those tasks.

“This is a community issue,” said Marinik. “Everyone in Wood County is invited to attend these meetings. We need input from everyone.”