Family Day Dinner event aims to bring families together

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It was just a plate of salad, breadsticks and spaghetti, but the organizers of this year's family day dinner at Alabama State University say that plate could go a long way toward helping to keep families together.

"We're always around each other, we're doing things like talking on the phone  using our ipods," said Sabine Simmons, a parent who brought her young son to the event.  "That doesn't constitute quality time, but eating dinner together does."

The Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse started the program in 2001.  Organizers say this event is the first of its kind in Alabama.  The center cites research that indicates children who come from families that eat dinner and do other activities together are "less likely" to abuse alcohol and drugs.

"I want my family to come together more and talk more," said Kayla Felder, who attended the dinner with her mother.  "When you talk to your mom, you get that support and when you don't you don't get that support that you need."  

"When somebody try to lead them wrong or tell them wrong, they can always say well, my mom said this," said Sylvia Watson, a parent who attended the event.  "They hear from an adult and they know that they care about them and they're going to look out for their best."  

The organizers of this Family Day Dinner say this is just the kickoff of a series of events intended to help bring families together and help keep kids out of trouble.'

"That's what we're looking for is to bring families back together," said Dr. Cheryl Plettenberg, director of the Health Information Management program at Alabama State University.  "That's our whole goal, we have no other, there's nothing bigger than that."

Dr. Plettenberg says the university hopes to kick off its Family Youth Initiative in November.