Community Partners Spread the Message About “I Got This!”

Community Partners Spread the Message About “I Got This!”

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Chicago teens and parents are leading healthy lives without alcohol

Most Chicago teens don’t drink alcohol. According to the 2016 Illinois Youth Survey (IYS), 78 percent of Chicago 8th graders and 59 percent of Chicago 10th graders have not had alcohol in the past year. Chicago teens have better things going on. 

Most Chicago parents talk to their kids about alcohol, too. According ot the IYS, 85 percent of Chicago 8th graders and 77 percent of Chicago 10th graders say their families have clear rules about alcohol and drug use. 

Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens, convened by Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital has been working hard to support Chicago parents and youth as they continue to follow their goals and lead happy, healthy lives without underage drinking. 

But we couldn’t do this important work without the support of our partners. Throughout our communication campaign, “I Got This!”, our community partners have been doing incredible work in spreading the word. They’re reaching out to Chicago parents and youth in their neighborhoods to let them know they’re not alone in leading healthy lives. They’re also providing support for families who want to have more honest conversations about alcohol. 

Today, we’re highlighting Midwest Asian Health Association (MAHA) and Youth Outreach Services (YOS) for supporting the “I Got This!” social media and community outreach campaign. Read their stories below. 

Midwest Asian Health Association (MAHA) : Twitter: @McKUDOS_chi; Facebook: @mckudoscoalition 

Vernalynne De La Rosa, the Substance Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator at Midwest Asian Association, shows off the Spanish and English-language “I Got This!” posters. 

Tell us a little bit about your organization. What is your vision for Chicago parents and youth? 

The mission of MAHA’s substance abuse prevention coalition (McKinley Park Underage Drinking and Other Substance Prevention Coalition) is to prevent substance use among youth (age 12-19) in the McKinley Park and the surrounding neighborhoods by building community partnerships, assessing the community’s needs and resources, developing strategic plans, implementing and evaluating program/coalition activities for awareness, advocacy, education, and intervention. Our vision for youth and parents of Chicago is to be educated about the dangers of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. For teens, we want them to be better equipped with healthy alternatives and therefore able to make healthier choices when faced with alcohol and other drugs. For parents, our vision is for them to continue to connect and support their youth as they become more independent. 

How does the “I Got This!” message fit into the work you do every day? 

“I Got This!” fits our work because it provides both youth and parents the power they have in underage drinking. Withparents and youth using “I Got This!” it provides another connection of how to continue to conversation with one another. 

How are community members responding to the message? 

Community members are welcoming the message and information of “I Got This!” It provides them an easy starting point to help in their role to support teens and parents with reducing underage drinking. 

What is the number one tip you have for Chicago teens and parents? 

The number one tip I have for Chicago teens is to be bold in your stance of choosing of not using alcohol. It’s your life and your future. For Chicago parents, my tip would be to be consistent and reliable with information, listening, and supporting your teen. 

Youth Outreach Services (YOS) Twitter: @YOSChicago; Instagram: @YOSChicago; Facebook: @youthoutreachservices 

Employees at Youth Outreach Services pose with their “I Got This!” posters after a team dinner.

Tell us a little bit about your organization. What is your vision for Chicago parents and youth? 

Youth Outreach Services (YOS) is a 60 year old comprehensive youth service agency that promotes the strengths and abilities of youth and families by providing community-based services that empower and enrich each to face life’s challenges with confidence, competence and dignity. YOS provides mentorship, support and therapeutic interventions to 12 to 21 year olds whose behaviors and their underlying root causes are causing them to not reach their full potential. YOS’s Prevention Department, who are a part of PAACT, is providing support for substance use prevention education to parents and youth in Dunning, Portage Park and Belmont Cragin. With offices across the west side of Chicago and western suburbs, including Austin, Dunning, Pilsen, and Melrose Park, YOS reaches over 4,000 youth per year. YOS’s vision is a society that treasures the safety, well-being and self-worth of every child. 

How does the “I Got This!” message fit into the work you do every day? How are community members responding to the message? 

YOS creates a climate of mutual respect where youth feel safe to talk openly and honestly about themselves. We engage young people in our programs or clinical services, in actively thinking about their personal goals and life choices. YOS meets the youth where they are at, with sincerity and lack of judgment. Just as “I Got This!” celebrates and elevates what youth are doing right, YOS focuses on youth learning the skills and tools to internally drive them to success instead of faulting them for their mistakes or setbacks. Further, YOS provides guidance for parents or caregivers, so that they feel supported and to help them find the strength to have difficult conversations with their kids about underage drinking or other destructive behaviors. 

What is the number 1 tip you have for Chicago teens and parents? 

It is vital that parents are having open conversations with their children. Not just once, but continuous, ongoing dialogue so that the youth feel as though they can go to their parents with problems or for advice. Many youth feel afraid to talk to their parents, especially about challenging conversations such as underage drinking. Talk to each other, or in the very least present alternatives to the youth that they should go to another trusted adult for advice, if they are not ready to come to their parents.

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