Parents and teens who attended an IMPACT forum on teen drinking and drug use at the Nineteenth Centry Club in Oak Park on Wednesday, Oct. 24 had a lot of information to process.
For over two hours, speakers ranging from local police chiefs to a community relations coordinator for a Rockford-based substance abuse facility gave attendees of the forum a slightly bewildering amount of information to process on teen drinking and drug use trends, drug an alchol effects on the body and a host of ordinances designed to locally handle cases when teens are caught out after curfew, smoking and attending underage drinking parties.
About half the chairs set up in the auditorium at the club were occupied by parents, with some teens also attending the event. Speakers spoke in 10-15 minute segments, seemingly attempted to cram as much information into their short presentations as possible.
IMPACT was started two years ago as a group of parents concerned that Oak Park and River Forest High School student were drinking and using drugs at a rate that was higher than national and state averages, according to the Illinois Youth Survey.
The Illinois Youth Survey is given to middle school and high school students every two years by the Illinois State Board of Education to track the drinking and drug use habits of teens. Two years after forming IMPACT, the results haven't changed, but the group was influential in getting local ordinaces related to curfew, social hosting, smoking and marijuana use approved in River Forest and Oak Park.
Afterwards, parents largely said they found the forum helpful—if not slightly frightening.
Some parents, however, wished the presentations had been longer, but that there was less covered, with more time for the question and answer session following the forum.
Several parents said they came specifically to the forum to learn about the effect the new local ordinances would have on teens, and wished it was addressed in greater detail. To that point, about half of the auditorium left after the local police chiefs made a short presentation on the new ordinances.
One teen who agreed to speak, but asked not to be named, said she found the forum helpful, but also felt a lack of involvmenent.
"It didn't see like they had much input from teens," the Oak Park River Forest junior said.
When asked if she felt there should have been a teen there to answer question and also talk with the group of parents, she said yes.
"I think that would have helped," she said. "It would have made it more interesting for me, I think."