Illinois Judges Association to present program geared to Winnebago teens: ‘7 Reasons to Leave the Party’
From press release
Imagine this. Every teenager in Illinois signs a “contract” with a parent or guardian, pledging not to drink alcohol, not to drive with someone who has been drinking, and to promise that, if they are at a place where they feel uncomfortable or unsafe, they will call the parent or guardian for a ride home, no questions asked.
That’s the hope behind a blunt, visual and interactive school program being presented by the Illinois Judges Association (IJA) called 7 Reasons to Leave the Party.
The program will be presented to 300 students at 2:10 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 14, at Winnebago High School, 200 E. McNair Road, Winnebago, Ill. Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge J. Edward Prochaska, of the 17th Judicial Circuit in Rockford, will deliver the presentation.
Created several years ago by Mark A. Drummond, a judge in the 8th Judicial Circuit in Quincy, Ill., the 50-minute, award-winning program provides seventh through 12th grade students with information about the consequences of poor choices. The talk is peppered with true stories of teens who made wrong decisions, and is designed to drive home this message: encourage your friends to avoid wrong behavior, and you can prevent them from having a criminal record or losing their driver’s license. You may even save a life.
“By the time a teen hits the courthouse, it is too late,” said Drummond, a father of three who made a similar pact with his children when they were teenagers. “This is our attempt as judges at preventative law. Most teens want to do the right thing, and hopefully they’ll encourage their peers to do the same.”
The first 5 percent of teens at each school, who present a signed contract to their driver’s education teacher or other school official, will receive a keychain flashlight, courtesy of IJA.
The presentation opens with a hip-hop music track that sets the tone for a typical teenage house party. There is unlawful behavior going on in each room. The presenting judge walks the audience through the home, spelling out the seven reasons to leave the party.
They use visuals, including a breathalyzer and medical urinalysis container, to underscore the message. Typically, they’re bombarded with questions at the end. Students receive a one-page handout listing the seven reasons to “leave the party.” The reverse side has a message to the parent/guardian, and schools will be encouraged to send the piece to them.
“We hope to reach several thousand students and parents throughout Illinois with this important message,” said Ronald D. Spears, a judge in the Fourth Judicial Circuit who is president of the Illinois Judges Association. “Teens need to know the personal and legal consequences of drinking and driving, taking drugs and having underage sex. Parents should be aware of the judges’ attempt at preventative law. Many of the presentations will be scheduled just prior to homecoming, prom and other popular party times during the school year.”
For more information about the program, write the Illinois Judges Association at 321 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604, call (312) 431-1283 or e-mail the association at firstname.lastname@example.org. The association’s Web site can be found at www.ija.org.
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