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Douglas County students win statewide video contest

Governor proclaims April 23 as "YOUR ACTIONS MATTER!" DAY as underage drinking efforts kick off statewide in eastern Illinois community

DATE: April 23, 2014
CONTACT: Ted Penesis (
VILLA GROVE, IL—The State of Illinois announced today at Villa Grove High School that students from the eastern Illinois school won the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s (ILCC) statewide video public service announcement (PSA) contest. The announcement ceremony at the Douglas County school also served as the statewide kickoff for this spring’s YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! underage drinking awareness campaign.
Douglas County Chairman Chuck Knox, Villa Grove Mayor Terrance Harbin, and other VIP’s joined hundreds of students from both Villa Grove Junior and Senior high schools to watch the first public viewing of this impactful 30-second spot. The attendees also listened to comments from the contest-winning students, their adult contributors, and other state and local dignitaries. Finally, a proclamation was read from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn honoring the winning students and declaring April 23, 2014 as YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! DAY in Illinois.
“We all enjoyed being involved in the creative process,” says Emmaline Cler, a Villa Grove High School sophomore, who was part of the student production team. “But creating the video was also a valuable learning experience. It showed us how to change negative behavior with positive actions.”
Adds her sister, sophomore Laura Cler, who was also part of the winning team: “We all hear parents say that kids just don’t listen to them, but oftentimes the reverse is true. If this video helps adults make better decisions, then we did our job.”
The PSA’s powerful visual message was enhanced and accompanied by an original score performed and written by fellow Villa Grove High School sophomore Brandon Hauserberger. The other winning Villa Grove High School students were sophomores Abby Marlar, Abby Miller, Isaiah Poe, Jay Whitney, Nicole Bolcabos, Aliyah Edwards, and senior Brandon Luttrell.
The winning video will run on television stations throughout the state during next spring's YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! campaign, thanks to an ILCC parental responsibility grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services and additional support from the ILCC’s statewide prevention partners (see list of YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! statewide partners later in this release).
“Importantly, the message created by Villa Grove High School students is pertinent to parents of all teens, particularly those at the younger age range,” says ILCC Executive Director Gloria Materre, noting that the ILCC grant specifically focuses on parents of 8th graders. “We want parents to start the conversation before their kids begin experimenting with alcohol.”

Adult community leaders help spread the message

But the PSA is just as relevant for parents of older teens, especially with prom and graduation parties imminent. “This message has to get out, loud and strong,” says Dr. Mary Ann Manos, superintendent for Villa Grove School District 302 and high school principal. “Villa Grove kids know that drinking and driving kills, and they have a lot to say to their generation about personal responsibility. This video will help them communicate with all ages throughout the entire state.”
Leading the students on their creative journey was Villa Grove School District’s Noreen Acton. “The goal of the project was to help us all realize the importance of underage drinking prevention,” notes Acton, the athletic director for both Villa Grove Junior and Senior high schools. “As a parent of a middle school child myself, my hope is that this student-driven project will ultimately help adults make more informed decisions in regards to allowing alcohol use by minors.”
Also assisting the students with equipment and technical support was Georgia Hillard, program coordinator for I Sing the Body Electric at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. The Body Electric program incorporates the arts to inform adolescents on the importance of making a healthy lifestyle.
“We recently completed administering the Illinois Youth Survey to collect substance use data by 10th and 12th graders, so the video contest was a very timely and relevant project,” relays Hillard. “Ms. Acton recognized that she had a very creative and responsible group of students, and was eager to participate.”
Reviewing the contest submissions and selecting the winning video was a 15-member judging panel consisting of key stakeholders in the prevention field, at the local level, and in the liquor industry (see list of judging panel members later in this release).
“I was quite impressed by the quality and effectiveness of all the video submissions,” says Burke Beverage’s Nolan Burke, a judging panelist. “It was quite difficult choosing just one winner, but we all believed the winning video would have the biggest impact on its audience.”
As they did last spring, Burke Beverage and its fellow Illinois MillerCoors beer distributors will again deliver YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! materials to all their statewide retail clients, thanks to the support and assistance of MillerCoors in this educational effort.

2014 YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! campaign kicks off statewide

In an effort to remind adult alcohol purchasers that “preventing underage drinking is everyone’s responsibility,” the Illinois Liquor Control Commission also kicked off its statewide YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! awareness campaign as part of the announcement ceremony at Villa Grove High School on April 23, 2014.
The ILCC enlisted a variety of prevention groups, schools, statewide organizations, local law enforcement agencies, the hospitality industry, and other key individuals as partners in the posting of YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! educational materials asking adults to “think, decide, and prevent” before making their purchase.
For the past six years, the ILCC has recruited thousands of teens and adult volunteers to post bottleneckers (or necktags), window decals, drink coasters, posters, and signs in participating liquor retailer locations throughout the state. Beginning last year, the campaign changed its focus to promote a positive message.
“Statistics show that the vast majority of adults and liquor retailers do not provide alcohol to minors. So, we understood there was a real need to reinforce positive behavior, rather than simply focusing on the negative consequences of underage drinking,” notes ILCC Education Manager Ted Penesis, who coordinates the yearly effort through the Commission’s Don’t Be Sorry educational program.
To meet this social norm, the ILCC held the statewide 2013 Don’t Be Sorry Youth Art Contest to request input from teens on the design of the new materials. And through the 2013 contest, the YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! campaign was born.

Partners in prevention

As they have done in past ILCC educational activities, a wide-ranging partnership of statewide organizations signed on to the YOUR ACTIONS MATTER! effort:
  • Operation Snowball (state and local chapters);
  • Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI);
  • Wine & Spirits Distributors of Illinois (WSDI);
  • Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA);
  • Illinois Restaurant Association;
  • Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMA);
  • Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (ILBA);
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD);
  • Illinois Municipal League;
  • Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM);
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD);
  • Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police;
  • Illinois Sheriffs’ Association;
  • Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association;
  • Illinois Food Retailers Association;
  • Illinois Drug Education Alliance (IDEA);
  • Illinois Association of Convenience Stores (IACS);
  • Prevention First, Inc;
  • Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of IL (CBHA);
  • Illinois Craft Distillers Association (ICDA);
  • Illinois Principals Association.

2014 Teen Video PSA Contest Judging Panel

The ILCC built upon its 2013 success by conducting a teen video public service announcement (PSA) contest, won by Villa Grove High School students. Selecting the winning video were members of the below judging panel, featuring key stakeholders in the prevention field, at the local level, and in the liquor industry:
  • Nolan Burke, Burke Beverage, Inc.
  • Heidi Dahnke, Human Resources Center, Edgar/Clark Counties.
  • Kay Daniel, Menard County School & Community Task Force.
  • Peter Dell’Aquila, Chestnut Health Systems.
  • Marne Fauser, IL Alcoholism & Drug Dependence Association.
  • Paula Goodwin, Grundy/Kendall Regional Office of Education.
  • Sam Grzeca, The LeaderShop.
  • Nikki Lay, Breaking Free, Inc.
  • Margaret Polovchak, OMNI Youth Services.
  • Adam Price, Youth Outreach Services.
  • Mayor Sam Pulia, Village of Westchester.
  • Judy Randall, Health/Prevention Professional.
  • Dr. Julie Tonsing-Meyer, McKendree University.
  • Bill Tynan, City of St. Charles.
  • Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi, Whiteside County.
For more information about this public awareness program, and to place your order for FREE materials, visit