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October 5, 2001

Youth Featured in Illinois' New Youth Drug Prevention Campaign

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor and Mrs. George H. Ryan announced today that a group of Illinois students were selected to be spotlighted in Be Real, a new youth alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention initiative sponsored by the State of Illinois' Futures for Kids program.

Thirty-two students from across the state will be featured in a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) promoting Be Real that will be seen and heard throughout the state.

As chair of the Futures for Kids program, Illinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan created the Be Real initiative to encourage Illinois youth to recognize they are cool for "being real" to themselves and their family, friends and communities - drug-free. This engaging and hip prevention program uses a variety of tested educational, marketing and media tactics to target 10- to 14-year-olds, an age group usually overlooked by traditional drug prevention campaigns.

The following Illinois Be Real youth were chosen for the Be Real campaign based on the photo and short essay they submitted describing how they are being real to themselves and others drug-free.

Cristian Stelle, Paris Kasey Kirchner, Christopher
Vicki Lee, Chicago Andy Yeo, Glenview
Jessica Pan, Chicago Ben Weiss, Glenview
Andrew Hertzberg, Glenview Mary Shelus, Chicago
Kara Joy Jordan, Elgin David Oropeza, Chicago
Heath Erwin, Paris Sarah Boline, Decatur
Samantha Farr, Dennison Kelsey Lawrence, Marshall
Christina Smithson, Marshall Chelsea Nesbit, Georgetown
Jenny Cook, St. Charles Adam Carlson, Lisle
Kelsey Maleski, Elgin Rebecca Uchyn, Elgin
Brigid Burke, Elgin Amanda Dayton, Libertyville
Elizabeth Zellnar, Vernon Hills Kandra Martin, Palatine
Sara Falk, Naperville Jerry Borjas, Schaumburg
Michael Patrick, Algonquin Kevin Dignan, Orland Park
Maggie Plese, Morris Bob Conard, West Chicago
Kimberly Engen, Aurora Ambria Canada, Elgin

The PSA campaign is an integral part of the Be Real initiative, helping to educate millions of young people, parents, teachers, and community and faith-based leaders about the benefits of being real and remaining drug-free. The PSAs, which are launching in movie theaters, magazines, newspapers and on radio stations throughout the state, feature Be Real youth involved in the activities that help them remain drug-free.

"The young people featured in the Be Real PSA campaign are excellent role models for all Illinois youth," said First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan. "Unlike other drug prevention programs out there, Be Real focuses on the positive things kids are doing in their lives to help them remain alcohol, tobacco and drug-free."

This year, the Futures for Kids program has teamed with the Illinois Drug Education Alliance (IDEA) to make Be Real the theme of Illinois' well-established Red Ribbon Week, October 20 - 28, 2001. In addition to its partnership with IDEA, Be Real has joined forces with schools, youth groups, and community and faith-based organizations throughout the state to spread drug prevention messages.

The Futures for Kids program is a statewide resource created by Governor George H. 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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