Standing Strong


L to R: Dr. Cristina Cortesi, me, and Jamie Epstein of the Stand Strong Coalition

One nice side-benefit of being Village President is also being an honorary member of the Long Grove, Kildeer & Hawthorn Woods Rotary club. Being married to a Rotarian makes it even sweeter! While I don’t have time to make it to most of the weekly breakfast meetings, I did make it a priority to attend the meeting this morning. Our speakers were Jamie Epstein and Dr. Cristina Cortesi of the Stand Strong Coalition, of which I am also a member.

Formed just this past summer, Stand Strong is a community coalition dedicated to preventing underage drinking and drug abuse among youth in our Stevenson High School community. The group serves to help educate parents and teens on the health risks associated with alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drug abuse in young adults, without being judgmental. The purpose of the coalition is to begin to change cultural norms by getting the community engaged in strategies for change. Members of Stand Strong include concerned parents, SHS coaches, counselors, staff and administrators, police officers, elected officials, healthcare professionals, religious leaders, business professionals, representatives from social service agencies, experts in the area of teen addiction and substance abuse, and more.

As one of the founders of the group, Jamie gave an informative talk on some of the successes so far, such as the “Not My Kid” event held at Stevenson this past September. Social hosting laws in our communities have been highlighted and strengthened, and work is underway to make prescription lock boxes more available and disposal of prescription medicines easier. Cristina, who serves as a Prevention Counselor at SHS helped us understand the effects of alcohol abuse and binge drinking on young adults, and the dangerous and permanent changes that can occur to adolescent brains when exposed to marijuana. Upcoming events include an 8th Grade Parent Talk on April 15th at Noah’s of Lincolnshire, and a drug and alcohol free Post-Prom celebration at Great America on May 16th. Local law enforcement officers will be working side-by-side with student volunteers this spring on a “Your Actions Matter” campaign in our area liquor stores and drinking establishments.

I am proud to support this new organization and have been impressed with the enthusiasm it has generated among the members. As the Stand Strong Coalition gains momentum, I feel that it has the potential to provide a tremendous asset to all the families in our community. Best wishes for continued success!