Second Series of Statewide Town Hall Meetings

4/3/2008

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 alcohol to be held in more than 50 Illinois communities. The forums will be held this week from March 31 through April 4.

"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 that happen when young people drink alcohol."

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.

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 and
  • to discuss how their community can 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."

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.

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.