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July 1, 2001

Governor and Mrs. Ryan Announce New Statewide Youth Drug Prevention Campaign

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan and Illinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced the State of Illinois' Futures for Kids program is developing "Be Real", an innovative, MTV-style youth alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention initiative. Be Real uses a variety of cutting-edge education, marketing and media tactics to target an age group usually ignored by traditional drug prevention campaigns - 10 to 14 year olds.

The Be Real campaign is an integrated social marketing program that focuses on encouraging Illinois' youth to recognize they are cool and hip for "being real" to themselves - drug-free. This first-of-its-kind youth prevention program has teamed with the Illinois Drug Education Alliance (IDEA) to make Be Real the theme of Illinois' well-established Red Ribbon Week, October 22 - 28, 2001.

"Along with our IDEA partners, Futures for Kids has teamed up with schools, youth and community groups and faith-based organization throughout the state. These essential relationships strengthen our joint mission of getting Illinois' youth to recognize that most of their peers are not doing drugs," said Governor George Ryan. "Unlike other drug prevention programs, Be Real focuses on the positive things kids are doing in their lives to help them remain drug-free."

Leading up to Be Real week in October, more than 7,000 toolkits will be delivered to public and private school principals and teachers, as well as thousands of youth group leaders in Illinois to help them coordinate Be Real activities in their communities. Teachers and youth leaders will show students through Be Real activities how rewarding it is to "be real" to themselves, their families and friends, their communities and their dreams - alcohol, tobacco and drug-free."

To further reinforce the campaign's positive messages, a statewide public service announcement (PSA) campaign will be launched in September featuring Illinois youth selected from a recent statewide youth search.

"Be Real and other anti-drug programs aimed at preteens are an absolute necessity because children are talking about and experimenting with drugs at earlier ages than ever before," said Mrs. Ryan, Chair of the Futures for Kids program. "Although drug use continues to decline, if we truly want to positively affect the behavior of our young people, we must reach out to them with effective prevention messages before they reach an age when drug-use becomes more prevalent."

Futures for Kids is a statewide resource created by Governor George Ryan for programs and policies related to the health, safety and education of infants, children and teenagers. As chair of the program, First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan works closely with youth and community leaders around the state to guarantee healthy, safe and bright futures for our children.


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