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The Whys and Hows of Smoke Free Spaces

The Whys and Hows of Smoke Free Spaces


Calypso in the Country

SteelDrums copyMMedits2


Thank You First Baptist Church!

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VT Department of Health Launches ParentUp

PARUP_SUPPORTER_BUTTON   Underage drinking risks immediate consequences, including impaired driving, alcohol poisoning, and increased risk of sexual assault, but studies also reveal that 90% percent of long-term addictions start in the teen years. This April, during Alcohol Awareness Month, The Collaborative encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the importance of early education on alcoholism and addiction.
In Vermont, one-third of high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, according to the 2013 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey. To spread the word and prevent alcohol abuse among youth in Vermont, The Collaborative is joining other organizations across the country to honor Alcohol Awareness Month.
Drugs and alcohol are not easy topics to bring up, especially with children and teens who may often seem like they’re not listening. But the truth is that the #1 reason kids give for not drinking is that they don’t want to disappoint their parents. Children do care deeply about their parents’ opinions—even if they don’t show it directly.
Parents can help prevent alcohol and other drug use with the following strategies:
• Set the foundation by helping your child develop key skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors
• Talk about alcohol, drugs, and mental health issues
• Monitor your teen
• Spread the word and make connections with other parents
• Know the warning signs
Learn more about these strategies and how to take action with ParentUp, an initiative of the Vermont Department of Health.
If you think your teen is drinking or using drugs, find information and help at:
• The Collaborative 802-824-4200

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April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month - Take a day off from drinking this week


Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. This April, during Alcohol Awareness Month, The Collaborative encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much.

To spread the word and prevent alcohol abuse in our community,
The Collaborative is joining other organizations across the country to honor Alcohol Awareness Month.

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting.
Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking:
• Limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for
• Keep track of how much you drink.
• Don’t drink when you are upset.
• Avoid places where people drink a lot.
• Make a list of reasons not to drink.
If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help.
• Contact a local Turning Point Center of Bennington County, Vermont Recovery Network or The Wilson House

For more information, call The Collaborative at 824-4200


Collaborative Camp is Gearing Up!



The High Cost of Revolving Doors

Source: Public Action Management
by Lise Gervais
March 17th

The costs of alcohol addiction, treatment and related problems are huge. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive consumption of alcohol cost the US $223.5 billion dollars in 2006. That’s $746 for every man, woman and child in a country where almost half of the population drinks alcohol infrequently, or not at all (NIH Health Interview Survey, 2008-2010). The financial burden of a few individuals in regular need of emergency services has landed heavily at the feet of local law enforcement, medical professionals and the health systems they work in. Some municipalities have a few individuals that illustrate that money doesn’t always bring good outcomes. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, one man averaged three police calls a week for disorderly behavior. He was committed to a mental health center more than 80 times and despite the $96,000 spent for his treatment, he succumbed to medical issues and died on the street. Reno, Nevada, had an individual, featured in a 2006 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, who was thought to have cost Reno taxpayers more than a million dollars over the course of ten years. In San Diego, California, a group of about 500 individuals were tracked from 2000-2003. This group accounted for 2,335 EMS transports, 3,318 Emergency Department visits, 3,361 inpatient days, resulting in $17.7 million in health care charges. Another study found that during an 18 month period, fifteen chronic inebriates cost the city $1.5 million in ambulance services and emergency room costs. A lot of taxpayer dollars were spent without getting to the heart of the problem of addiction, mental illness and homelessness. Some communities have taken a new approach to deal with the problems of a small number of people who chronically drink to excess in public. These programs have all shown promise in terms of cost reductions due to fewer arrests, ER visits and police calls for service. (See links for evaluation reports.) In 2000 San Diego started SIP, the Serial Inebriate Program. Individuals who are sent to sobering services more than 4 times in 12 months, are identified as serial inebriates and offered treatment instead of incarceration. At the first offense they are offered 30 days in treatment or 30 days in jail. At the second, 60 days in treatment or 60 days in jail, 90 days after the third. Santa Cruz, CA, started a SIP in 2006 and also offers 30 days of clean and sober housing after treatment. Sacramento, CA also started a SIP in 2006 and has involved downtown business owners who help graduates find permanent housing. Other communities have used alcohol regulation to reduce problems by prohibiting the sale of street drinking products, limiting off-premise selling hours and reducing the number of outlets. Seattle and Tacoma, WA, have restricted the sale of drinks that are attractive to heavy drinkers in areas where street drinkers frequent, called Alcohol Impact Areas (AIA). Low cost, high alcohol beverages sold in single serve containers, such as fortified wines and certain kinds of malt liquors are compiled in a list of banned products. Within the AIA’s, local jurisdictions are given more time to review new liquor license applications and renewals. Hours of off-premise sales can be limited by law. Enforcing public disorder laws to curb things such as littering, public urination, and sleeping in public areas can help reinforce social norms. Green Bay, Wisconsin, has tried a No-Serve List for individuals who have been the subject of three or more alcohol-related incidents in twelve months. Owners of bars and off-premise stores are sent a list of names and photos with a request to not sell alcohol to these customers. The question of civil liberties has arisen, since alcohol is a legal product, so officials have taken steps to update the list so that people who no longer meet the criteria are removed from the list. The revolving door of street to ER to incarceration and back to the street is costly and doesn’t get to the issues. San Diego’s Serial Inebriate Program’s website put it this way, “SIP saves the community the very high costs of recurrent use of emergency services, and most importantly, it’s the right thing to do for our very ill neighbors in need.” These programs save local governments considerable money, but they also can be the spark toward a more comprehensive approach. In an evaluation of the Tacoma AIA project, Dr. John Tarnai of Washington State University, said, “In summary, it is probable that the AIA restrictions are just one aspect of an entire community wide effort to deal with chronic public inebriation. Putting the AIA restrictions in place strengthened the community wide efforts and gave others more motivation to deal with the problem of chronic public inebriation.” He went on to note that community volunteers helped clean up litter, there was increased police participation and additional services became available through the new Tacoma Rescue Mission. We must always remember that alcohol is a regulated industry and all bear a responsibility to comply with laws and work with government officials and other community partners to minimize harmful outcomes. Links: John Tarnai, Ph.D., Washington State University, “Evaluation of the Tacoma, Washington Impact Area, (AIA), pdf, 2003.


Mark, Set…Go! 40 for 40

As a celebration for Mark Weikert turning forty years old on April 8, 2015, he plans on running 40 miles on that day to raise money for The Collaborative.  Mark is currently the Health and Physical Education teacher at Flood Brook School.  He has been teaching for 18 years with the past 10 years at Flood Brook School.   He works for The Collaborative recently the EDP Director and Camp Director.

Mark’s has a history of endurance events for fun and competition. He ran 20 on his 20th birthday and 30 on his 30th birthday.  He has completed the Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid (Swim 2.6 bike 112 run 26.2 miles) and over 10 marathons (26.2 miles) including The Boston Marathon 4 times.

Weikert has been teaching goal setting during his Physical Education lessons all year.  He has been using his goal and training for this 40 mile run as an example of how long some goals take and that physical fitness can not happen over night. Mark started training the week of thanksgiving 2014 for a 22 week training schedule to get from zero miles a week to over 60 miles a week.  As part of his training, he has recently been running to school every morning to also help demonstrate the time committed it takes to train for an event like this.  You may see him running 10 miles at 4:30am on his way from Bondville to Londonderry.  Mark also stresses the importance of personal goals, even ones with only rewards for oneself, meaning no trophy at the end.

Mark plans to run 40 miles around the mountain town starting at 8:00 am on April 8th at Flood Brook School. If he maintains 9-minute per mile pace, he will be finished by 2:00pm.  Mark will loop passed Flood Brook a few times so the students can see how he is doing.  The students and staff will be challenged that day to get outside a run as well.  He will be challenging each class in the school to run 40 miles that day while he is running.

Mark’s goal is to raise $4,000.00 for the Collaborative These fund grants money to enrichment activities for students of the Mountain towns.  If you are interested in sponsoring Mark, please go to or email



What Signifies Adulthood?

As adults, our responsibility is to show kids that alcohol doesn’t have to be a part of the teenage years and that alcohol doesn’t signify adulthood.

Underage Drinking: Feeling Like a Grown-Up

By Todd Kestin

You probably don’t need any stats to know that many teenagers drink alcohol. But just in case, here you go. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 50 percent of teenagers have had at least one drink by the time they turn 15. And that number increases to 70 percent by the time they reach 18.


But here’s what the stats can’t answer: why do teenagers start drinking at all? Many experts will tell you that peer pressure is the number one reason for underage drinking. And, yes, some teens do fall prey to this. Peers can be relentless when they want others to conform to their standards. But in my years working with teens, I’ve come to believe that the number one reason teens start drinking is simple: they want to feel grown up.

Around age 16, teens hit the point when they don’t see themselves as kids anymore. They begin to realize that adulthood is fast approaching and they are impatient. They are anxious to become more mature and to be seen as more mature.

Unfortunately, for many teens, alcohol has become a sign of adulthood. Our job is to show them alternatives.

When a teenager has guidance and mentorship in an environment where they are treated like an adult, massive changes begin to occur. With the proper support, these teens realize they don’t need alcohol to live in their best state possible. They need healthy relationships to begin the process of growing up. Then they can begin to adjust their lives towards what is possible, and they make the choice to start living grown up, in a healthy way.

I’ve come to believe that the number one reason teens start drinking is simple: they want to feel grown up.
Unfortunately not all teens are lucky enough to have guidance from parents or other mentors. Some teens struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically. They feel lost, grasping to make sense out of their lives. They want to feel grown up, yet they still feel like a child. For many, that’s when they turn to alcohol.

In my own practice, I am working with a 16-year-old highly anxious boy who has been masking his anxiety with alcohol. He is extremely intelligent, but his joy for school has been vanishing, and his grades have been falling. In our meetings, he talks about the pressures to drink and how it is affecting his life. He struggles with wanting to feel both grown up and like a teenager. While he says that drinking did not bring much value to his life, he continued because of his social group and to ease his anxiety. He wanted meaningful connections with people who mattered and felt that drinking would help him accomplish that goal.

Over the next several months I was able to work with him to establish his identity without the presence of alcohol in his life. We established the following goals:

Surrounding himself with the right people. Not the ones that set him back.
Setting clear goals. What does he wants moving forward in his life?
Building confidence. And listening to his intuition.
Engaging with his parents on a more mature level.
Teens simply want to feel grown up, and there are certainly ways you can foster that feeling. As you facilitate your teen’s path to independence, let him know that you are always there to help and support him. Loosen your grip on the reins, and let him make some decisions on his own. You can ask him if he wants advice, but be willing to withhold if he says he doesn’t want it. Affirm his good decisions and keep the lines of communication open.

Have discussions about preparing for life as an adult. Offer suggestions to help with the transition, like perhaps getting a part-time job, saving money, planning for college, and so on.

You can also have a heart-to-heart when it comes to underage drinking. Assure your son or daughter that they are actually acting more responsibly when they turn down alcohol than if they were to drink. Start to establish a strong relationship that is built on trust. When your teen sees you as her trusted advisor, she’ll be more likely to come to you when she has a real concern about a tough issue. When she trusts you, you’ll have a chance to guide her through adolescence and into emerging adulthood.

Todd KestinTodd Kestin, LCSW, is the author of the 7 Qualities of Incredible Teens and specializes in working with young adults.

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Counter Balance VT Stands up to Big Tobacco

How are tobacco companies marketing to our VT youth? Kathy O’Reilly from Vermont Department of Health-Bennington and The Collaborative break down the marketing efforts of tobacco companies that target VT youth and discuss VT Department of Health’s campaign called Counter Balance VT!