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Mayor’s Cabinet on Young People
October 16, 2007
A102 City Hall

Present: Lisa Berger, Julie Jeske, Amanda Kayler, John Packett, Mary Lien, Ron Gruwell, Jay Fisher, Betty Otteson, John Staley, Deb Thompson, Sharyl Simeone, Pete Haga.

Haga gave a brief history of the cabinet and its purpose for those that were new to the group.

It’s Not O.K. Campaign.

Haga stated that the Mayor and Cabinet have discussed in the past the problem of underage drinking in our community and the desire to work on a community initiative to bring awareness to the problem. He introduced Sharyl Simeone of the City’s Public Information Center, who has been working on development of this campaign.

Simeone explained that the main emphasis of the plan as in the name is to let people know that underage drinking is not o.k. She distributed some sample ideas for brochures and events that could be a part of the campaign including a possible youth lock-in or all day event.

The group discussed the need to plan an event date well in advance because of the busy schedules of youth and the already existing scheduling problems for school events. Gruwell stated that there has been some progress made with youth in the area of substance use, but it is slow progress and the message really needs to get to the parents in order to break the cycle of underage use. Simeone commented that perhaps targeting a message to adults could be a goal of the group. Packett suggested conducting any event or blitz near the time of year when events associated with an increased alcohol use occurs, i.e. homecoming, prom, springfest, etc.

Kayler suggested perhaps holding something during a portion of a school day may get better attendance than an evening or weekend event, as there are so many other activities that conflict during those hours. She also suggested perhaps having people fill out an application and maybe interview to be part of the discussion event would increase participation and make the event seem more special. Lien suggested perhaps working with some students from the University may also help as youth often respond better to peers than to adults. Kayler stated that can also sometimes be more effective with parents. The group discussed including parents as part of or all of the event and discussed the difficulty that you sometimes have getting the adults that need to hear this type of message to come and be part of the conversation. Kayler suggested perhaps having some from each school attend the event and then come back and share what was discussed within their school as a way to increase exposure on the peer level.

The group discussed the target audience and whether it should be high school, or if that is too late and need to start at middle school to get the message to the kids before the habit starts.

The group discussed the cost of running a large campaign. Lien stated that there are a number of potential grants that are available, especially for events in the prom timeframe. Haga stated that the Mayor may also have some funds available. Lien stated that there are already some ads and other materials available from the Surgeon General and state on this topic and perhaps some of those could work as well. She continued that last night there were about 50 that attended the connections event at Valley Middle School including parents and youth and shows there is an interest in improving things for our youth.

Youth Report Card

Lawson stated that she has been working on trying to identify data to match the benchmarks listed, but is in need of assistance for data sources on many areas. She continued that she is making good progress on Benchmark #1, Benchmark #2 has talked with the School District and LaGrave Learning Center, Benchmark #3 needs help, will be speaking with the Health Department, Jeske will e-mail her the address for the ND Dept of Health contact that may also have some information, caution is that some is not Grand Forks specific so would not be consistent with other information reported, Benchmark #4 – there may be some information available from the School District, Benchmark #5-has talked to YMCA, and School District may also have some information. Lawson shared her e-mail address so that any cabinet members could get contact information to her.

The group discussed that once the report card is completed it will show where the community is at and can also be used as a strategic tool to show where progress is being made.

Staley commented that he was just at a conference where they discussed the lack of nonstructured play available to youth and the part that is playing in leading to an increase in obesity.

Youth Commission Update

Haga reported that the Commission is in the process of getting back up and running now that school is back in session and that there were a number of vacancies that needed to be filled due to graduations from last year’s members. He reported that there will still be three reps from each middle school and 4 from each high school and that the big issue will be getting reliable communication method set up, as there were some problems last year with e-mail. Packett offered that perhaps the reverse 911 system could be used as a means to get the message out if mail, e-mail is not working. Haga stated that they are working on a system that would go through the adult contacts at each school to assist with student notification.

100 Best Communities for Young People

Haga stated that he attended the America’s Promise conference this past week and that we can be very proud of our community in that we are the only award recipient in North Dakota, and one of only a few that have won it both years it has been in existence. He continued that the 2008 application process is underway, with applications due in 17 days. He asked that anyone with updates to application information to please forward that information to him for inclusion as soon as possible. He added that there are great incentives for those that win the award three times, including grant opportunities, and while we did not receive a grant award last time, we should have a good chance this time.


The group discussed the relocation of the skateboard park to near the police department, which was selected as a new site with the hope that the proximity to the police department would deter some of the problem behaviors that have occurred at the park in the past. Some minor issues have been occurring, such as noise later in the evening, which will be addressed with signage and hours of operation, and a problem with some trash cans being dumped out and garbage strewn about the area, which will also be addressed. Overall, has seemed to be a positive fit.

Respectfully submitted,

Sherie Lundmark
Admin Spec Sr