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Coalition Makes Prevention an Intergenerational Effort

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In addition to a parental communication network and a survey on parental attitudes toward underage drinking, the Northshire Community Coalition in Vermont held a forum uniting youth, parents and grandparents to help strengthen the community, the Rutland Herald reported on March 10.

The coalition, a group of parents and teens that promotes substance use prevention, is introducing the Safe Homes Program, a network through which parents communicate with each other about supervision and safety at upcoming teen parties and social events.

“The idea of it is to create a group of supportive parents that agree not to serve alcohol to teens in their homes,” said Jennifer Flannery, co-chairwoman of the coalition.

The program, first established ten years ago in Nebraska, will encourage parents to call ahead to the homes of their children's friends. Hopefully, the project will also show teens that their parents believe underage drinking and drug use are not acceptable.

Last year, the coalition distributed a survey, which revealed that, although 87 percent of Northshire adults feel that alcohol use is a serious issue facing local youth, 47 percent of them believe it is acceptable for underage youth to drink as long as they are not driving. Fifty-eight percent of parents also assumed their children would drink alcohol before turning 18.

The coalition also held a day-long, intergenerational forum on March 6 to join youth, parents and grandparents in promoting ways of strengthening the community.

A consultant from the Search Institute, a Minnesota-based nonprofit, directed the forum and will help the community find ways to build upon its existing assets.

“The idea is to bring different (people) together and go back out with a concrete action plan,” said Jill Loewer, the coalition's program coordinator.

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