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February 1, 2005

Governor’s Safe Games Illinois Task Force holds first meeting
Chatham mother named convener of advisory board

CHICAGO – The Governor’s Safe Games Illinois Task Force held its first formal meeting today, and named Christine Westerlund of Chatham the convener of the task force.  Gov. Blagojevich created the Safe Games Task Force – which is made up of parents from across Illinois as well as community leaders, clergy, teachers, medical experts and child advocates from across the nation – to work with his office on developing outreach efforts to parents about the dangers of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors. 
First Lady Patti Blagojevich joined the meeting.  “Each one of us has taken time out to serve on this task force because we recognize that these increasingly explicit games pose a real threat to our children’s development and behavior,” the First Lady said. “I look forward to working with the other task force members and developing recommendations that can help parents do their job. The research and groundwork that we will be doing over the coming months is important both to the parents and the children of our state.”
During today’s organizational meeting, the group discussed their responsibilities in conjunction with the Governor’s legislative proposal to ban minors from purchasing or renting violent and sexually explicit video games. The task force will provide local communities with additional information about the dangers of violent and sexually explicit video games.
The task force is made up of two subcommittees: a parents group and a policy group. The parents group is charged with developing strategies for educating parents and the public about the issue of explicit video games, as well as gathering feedback on the Governor’s proposed legislation, making web site improvement recommendations, and suggesting any additional ideas for educating parents and the public.  Members will also inform the Governor of parents’ concerns that may be addressed as part of this initiative.
The policy group will gather, review, and inform the Governor of the latest research examining the impact that playing violent and sexually explicit video games has on children.  This group will also provide the Governor with information on industry advertising and marketing practices and video game demographic usage information.
Christine Westerlund of Chatham, a training specialist with the Illinois Community Action Association and a mother of two, was named the convener of the task force. "As a member of the Task Force, I hope to share the Governor's plan with our communities,” said Westerlund. “I’m anxious to hear what parents are thinking and doing to educate both themselves and their children about the content of video games, and I look forward to working with this distinguished panel."
The other members of the task force are:
First Lady Patti Blagojevich
The Hon. Ed Burke (Alderman, City of Chicago)
The Hon. John A. Fritchey (D-Chicago)
The Hon. Paul D. Froehlich (D-Schaumburg)
The Hon. Donald L. Moffitt (R-Galesburg)
The Hon. Richard J. Winkel, Jr. (R-Urbana)
Mr. Julio Abreu (Chicago)
Ms. Kathy Bilbo (Chicago)
Ms. Gayla Boomer (Illinois PTA)
Dr. Dan Broughton (American Association of Pediatrics)
Mr. Andy Burtschi (Decatur)
Mrs. Stacy Burtschi (Decatur)
Mr. Paul Caprio (Director, Family PAC)
Mr. Dennis Ferrell (Herod)
Mrs. Patty Ferrell (Herod)
Mr. David Gee (Chicago)
Dr. Douglas Gentile (National Institute on Media and the Family)
Ms. Sheila Jamison (Decatur)
Ms. Kristin Juozaitis (Chicago)
Ms. Erin Kern (Belleville)
Mrs. Audry King (Golconda)
Mr. Kelly King (Golconda)
Ms. Laura Kovarik (Naperville)
Mr. Eric Leonard (Decatur)
Mrs. Jamel Meeks (Chicago)
Ms. Laura Mills (Evanston)
Ms. Nell Minow (Editor/Co-Founder, The Corporate Library)
Mrs. Debra Niebur (Edwardsville)
Ms. Deb Perryman (Illinois Teacher of the Year)
Mr. Bill Peyton (Norris City)
Dr. Michael Rich (Children’s Hospital Boston & Harvard Medical School)
Dr. John Schneider (American Medical Association)
Ms. Joni Shaver (Washington)
Mr. Bud Sous (Peoria)
Rev. Thomas Walker (Decatur)


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