The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

January 5, 2013

Impact Coalition works to deter teenagers’ risky behaviors

CLINTON — The Gateway Impact Coalition is working toward getting parents educated on the dangers of substance abuse their children are exposed to everyday.

After holding parent meetings on a wide array of topics from synthetic drugs to alcohol, with low attendance, the coalition aimed at combating community substance abuse problems is working toward reaching the crucial group.

Parent meetings began in May and concluded in December covering synthetic drugs, methamphetamine, risky sex and binge drinking and prescription drug abuse. Each month Coalition Coordinators met with concerned parents offering information and guidance on the topics mentioned.

After parents brought up topics like synthetic drugs at a local PTA meeting and there was misunderstanding, several coalition members relayed the message to coordinators who decided to start holding the monthly meetings.

While the meetings went well, attendance numbers were low, prompting Gateway to look into other options.

“Those who attended found it extremely beneficial, but right now we are working on a better way to reach parents,” Coalition Coordinator Crystal Lawburgh said.

The coalition offers a wide variety of programs for all ages, but is ultimately focused on dealing with substance-abuse problems from the start in the formative teen years. Better educating parents on drug trends is also a major goal for the organization as they are a crucial part in the lives of teens.

“Parents are an extremely important piece of the puzzle,” Lawburgh said. “We need to make sure we educate them about the things their kids could be dealing with.”

Another program that links parents and teens, “Got a Minute? Eat With Me,” will see some changes this year as Gateway teams up with the Blue Zones Project movement to emphasize exercise and healthy eating. This year’s program will run this summer instead of the winter. More than 525 families participated in the popular program last year. The new theme “E3” focuses on eat, exercise and engage.

“We are having it in the summer so families can take advantage of free outdoor events,” Lawburgh said. “It’s all about being healthy and building relationships.”

Gateway Impact Coalition will host its annual breakfast to review all of its programs on Jan. 25 at the Wild Rose Casino and Resort. The team of four employees is currently busy compiling its annual report to present to all who attend.

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