Parents, your words can have a powerful influence on whether your child starts to drink or experiment with drugs. Your kids really do want to hear from you and they look to you for healthy guidance.

That advice comes from Todd County Citizens Against Drugs - a group of friends, family, community leaders and neighbors who are working together to address issues relating to the prevention of underage use/abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Todd County.

To help parents strike up conversations with young people, the coalition, known as CAD, will be distributing newly revised "conversation card packets" around Todd County this summer. They'll be available in restaurants, businesses, health clinics and community gatherings starting mid-summer.

The packets contain both serious and fun questions to help families make it a habit to stay connected.

Talking about serious subjects with kids is not always easy, noted CAD members. A good strategy, they said, is to start small and just talk about everyday topics - friends and peers, values and character, school and learning and so forth. Then, talking about alcohol and drugs will happen more smoothly.

Todd County youth who attended CAD-supported youth leadership training at Wolf Ridge Environmental Center in June helped choose the new discussion questions. These new questions were then translated into Spanish by UM-Extension Family Resiliency faculty member, Antonio Alba Meraz. The packets also have a new cover, to show off CAD's new logo and mission/vision statements.

CAD includes representatives from the following sectors: youth, parents, businesses, media, schools, health care, law enforcement, religious/fraternal organizations, civic and volunteer groups, youth-serving organizations, state and local government and other organizations involved in reducing substance abuse.

For more information about the Todd County CAD coalition, contact Connie Burns, Todd County Health education coordinator at 320-732-2221 or