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Obion County Prevention Coalition works to keep youth alcohol- and drug-free

Obion County Prevention Coalition works to keep youth alcohol- and drug-free

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 5:00 pm

By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
Residents of Obion County wish to keep their youth drug- and alcohol-free in order to promote development of healthy and safe lives.
In an effort to accomplish this task, the Obion County Prevention Coalition was formed in 2010 under a Coalition Mentoring Grant through the help of the Weakley County Coalition. Its executive board consists of Union City Police Chief Joe Garner, chairman; Tracy Boucher, vice chairman; Abbie Jackson, secretary; and LeEllen Smith, treasurer. Regina Hendon is the coalition coordinator and oversees the day-to-day activities of the office.
Mrs. Hendon said the coalition envisions a community where public policy and spending priorities reflect a strong drug-free stance and where all sectors — business, religious, education, neighborhoods, families — work toward that goal.
“This year, the coalition focus has been on underage, binge drinking in the community. For the 2012-13 year, the sale of tobacco to minors and prescription drug abuse have been added. It is the goal of the coalition to make our community more aware of the problems our youth are facing today, whether it is how to help keep their child drug/alcohol/tobacco free, or how to help them if he or she becomes involved/addicted to one of these,” she said.
The coalition has been busy bringing its message before the public, including a Back-to-School event held at Walmart, manning a booth at the Obion County Fair in August, participating in a health fair at Union City Elementary School, setting up at Connect at the Obion County fairgrounds and working during the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Tennessee We Care event.
The coalition hosted Blake McMeans at Union City Civic Auditorium. McMeans, a rising tennis star who was paralyzed in an accident caused by his drinking and driving, shared his story with Union City and Obion County students during Red Ribbon Week.
Tobacco tool kits were distributed by the group to local stores in January and included “We Card IDs” displays, as well as the state laws regarding selling to minors. Businesses were instructed on how to tell a fake ID and what to look for when checking an ID.
In March, Walmart participated in the Sticker Shock program, which included placing brightly colored stickers on cases of beer showing it is a Class A misdemeanor for alcohol to be given to anyone younger than 21. The event was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD.
Mrs. Hendon and local DARE officer Stephanie Marshall attended the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s (CADCA) 22nd annual National Leadership Forum in February. While there, they met with Rep. Stephen Fincher and with an aide to Sen. Lamar Alexander to garner support for drug and alcohol prevention, treatment and research programs. They also distributed handbills which noted “Every dollar invested in substance abuse prevention saves from $2 to $20.”
The coalition most recently hosted Kick Butts programs in the Union City and Obion County school systems. Students pledged not to smoke or use tobacco.
The group’s next event will be held Saturday in conjunction with Earth Day Celebration 2012. Coalition members will be located in front of the Municipal Building in Union City between 10 a.m. and noon accepting expired, unused or no longer wanted medications. They can be both prescription and over-the-counter.
A second opportunity to turn in medicines will be for Drug Take Back Day. The event will be held April 28 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the front entrance of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City. The event is being sponsored by the coalition, the hospital and Union City Police Department. The service is free and anonymous. The Drug Enforcement Administration will dispose of the collected medications.
The group will also set up a booth and distribute tobacco, alcohol and prescription drug abuse materials at the Junior Auxiliary of Obion County sponsored Healthy Start-Healthy Finish event scheduled for April 28 at Union City High School’s War Memorial Stadium.
To help educate high school students about the consequences of drinking and driving, especially during prom season, the coalition plans to place hang tags on tuxes in local clothing stores and place cards in corsage and bouquet boxes at florists. Dead Day, where students will be selected to have died, will be held at Obion County Central High School on April 27. Mrs. Hendon said selected students will have placards hanging around their necks stating the tragic alcohol-related incidents which caused their deaths. They will also have their faces painted white. The same day, Union City High School students will be participating in Click It or Ticket It events.
For more information about Obion County Prevention Coalition, call Mrs. Hendon at 504-7777, email her at ocpcoalition@gmail.com or visit on Facebook at Obion County Prevention Coalition.

Published in The Messenger 4.18.12

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