Pledge for Life was awarded grant funds by the US Department of Education to expand the Project Northland program to reduce alcohol abuse. Funds were used to continue the junior high program in Kankakee County and to initiate it in Iroquois County, as well as to start a high school program in both counties. This builds upon the Life Education Center, and other substance abuse programs offered in earlier grades. Participation in the program has provided the Partnership increased opportunities to use state-of-the-art research-based principles to help youth resist alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Increased emphasis has been placed on parent education in the area of developmentally appropriate behavior for teenagers and increasing the availability of community resources supporting positive youth development. Several parenting education programs have been offered, along with social marketing campaigns aimed at decreasing community approval of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse among youth.
The KAN-I HELP Network is a comprehensive community information system designed to connect the people of Kankakee and Iroquois counties with a wide variety of human service agencies. KAN-I HELP's web site provides public access to community information. The web site offers listings and service profiles on each agency. It links users to other agency web sites.
The initial capital campaign led by the Junior League to raise $100,000 needed to purchase the first mobile Life Education Center (LEC) was successful beyond all expectations. The Life Education Center is a mobile classroom on a mission teaching students about the wonders of the human body and the dangers of its abuse. The excellent instruction provided through the LEC has been the cornerstone of Pledge for Life's on-going success.During its first year of operation (1990-91) the LEC visited 39 public and non-public schools. In 1999, a second mobile unit was leased to the Regional Office of Education by Life Education Centers, USA to serve Iroquois County schools.Currently, the LEC's unique curriculum reaches over 10,000 students at public and private schools annually.The Junior League initiated several activities to reinforce the LEC curriculum. In 1991, a 12-minute video was produced to educate the community about the program and in 1992, the League purchased an eight-foot "Harold the Giraffe" costume to represent the LEC mascot. Widely popular with the students, "Harold" continues to appear at special community and school events. Between 1992 and 1994, League members published two quarterly student newspapers; "The Quarterly Harold" for grades K-2 and "Wise Times" for grades 3-6. In 1993, the League established the "Best Practice Contest," which provides cash awards to teachers who conduct innovative pre- or post-visit activities that support the LEC curriculum. Pledge for Life has been able to continue the contest annually thanks to start-up funds from the Junior League.
The two mobile units are operated by the Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education. The Life Education Center curriculum is aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards including the social and emotional learning standards. The junior high program was filmed for a national teacher training video in 2009 by Hazelden, the publisher of the Project Northland prevention curriculum.
Alcohol Awareness Month
Each April the Pledge for Life Partnership sponsors activities, participates in media events, and distributes information as part of Alcohol Awareness Month. A Town Meeting to Address Underage Drinking was held March 27, 2006 to kick off the 2006 communications campaign in Kankakee and Iroquois counties, " Don't Look the Other Way… Start Talking Now."
A coalition of committed individuals and organizations that mobilize public and private resources and initiatives to improve the quality of life for area residents. Specific efforts are made to promote responsible behavior and healthy lifestyle choices through life-long learning. Each April the Partnership promotes Alcohol Awareness Month. Initiatives include the Life Education Center Programs and the KAN-I HELP Information Network. The PfL Partnership is a co-sponsor of the Kankakee County Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.
Pledge for Life Partnership Initiative
1 Stuart Drive
Kankakee, IL 60901