CEDAR CITY – Parents Empowered, in conjunction with Iron County Prevention Coalition, Southwest Prevention Center and other partnering agencies, sponsored a Community Family Day May 14 at Main Street Park in Cedar City. The main purpose of the event was to give families an opportunity to spend time together while learning about prevention trends in the community.
In past years, the coalition has hosted a Community Family Night at Canyon View High School, which allowed parents to hear drug and alcohol prevention messages in a setting apart from their kids. This year, however, the coalition wanted to stress the importance of family togetherness in preventing underage drinking and drug abuse.
“When we did it at Canyon View we kind of split the families up,” said Heidi Baxley, a prevention specialist for Iron County with Southwest Prevention. “The kids would go in the bounce houses and the parents would get the prevention message. When we did the evaluations, that was our number one complaint … ‘You call this Community Family Night, but we’re not spending time together as a family.’”
The different approach seemed to work as more than 1,000 people turned out to play games at various booths throughout the park, while listening to important prevention messages at each station.
As families checked in at the event, they received a card to take around to all the prevention booths in the park, Baxley said. Families that completed the card were entered to win door prizes. Prevention booths were sponsored by Iron County Prevention Coalition; Southwest Prevention’s youth coalition kids, who spoke about the increasing trend of e-cigarettes in the community; The Family Support Center; 4-H; and SUU Head Start, to name a few.
In addition to delivering prevention messages to families, each booth sponsored a family activity. Southwest Prevention had a photo booth where families posed with a sign committing to preventing underage drinking; SUU Head Start had a bubble blowing station, a rock painting station and trike races; and 4-H sponsored yard games like tug of war. And no party in the park would be complete without Funtime Inflatables, which set up several bounce houses and slides for the kids.
“Most people think, ‘We’re in Utah, it’s a cultural thing not to drink,’ but we do have really significant rates of underage drinking and when our kids do drink, they binge drink which is kind of scary,” said Baxley. “Talk about it with your kids, even though they (may only be) in sixth grade, mention it … you’ve got to know what the rules and consequences are for that.”
“(The Parents Empowered) message is to spend time together as a family, that families can do so much to prevent underage drinking in the community,” Baxley said. “They don’t realize how important they are … and this event is an opportunity for families to bond together and learn how to prevent underage drinking.”
For more information about Parents Empowered, including data, tips and tools to prevent underage drinking, visit www.parentsempowered.org.