CASAC Celebrates Blooming Partnerships that Promise to Improve the Health and Wellness of Children in Chautauqua County

PAX Training

Article Contributed by
Chautauqua Alcohol & Substance Abuse Council

This summer the Chautauqua Alcohol & Substance Abuse Council (CASAC), began expanding their services to include teacher coaching in a handful of Chautauqua County School districts, including the Dunkirk, Clymer, Sherman, & Jamestown school districts. CASAC has partnered with New York State and the PAXIS Institute to implement strategies that focus on “building learning environments that prevent emergence of problem behavior” in students. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has awarded more than $1.6 million in funding to help teachers across New York State implement an initiative that will equip students with the skills necessary to reduce risk factors associated with drug use and addiction. The awards are fully funded through the State Opioid Response grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition, the PAXIS Institute provided training for CASAC staff, as well as teachers, and administrators on how to implement an evidence-based program in the classroom called the PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG). CASAC’s educators, Tracy Jespersen, Natasha Juma, Jose Quinones-Visot, and Waverly Lancer, will work with school faculty and staff on initiating and maintaining the successful implementation of the PAX GBG.

The PAX Good Behavior Game, developed by the PAXIS Institute, uses evidence based activities to create a Nurturing Environment in the classroom. As quoted by PAXIS president, Dr. Dennis Embry, “Many children with serious mental health problems often move into the normative range as a consequence of the creation of a Nurturing Environment…” In addition, Dr. Embry states, “Psychological flexibility, safety, and resiliency are key skills that protect children’s futures. PAX GBG gives you tools to create this important psychological tripod of positive child development.”

The PAX GBG is an evidence based initiative that is supported by years of scientific research that shows overwhelming improvement in the lives of students and teachers. Research shows that the PAX GBG has a direct impact on the reduction of problem behaviors among students during almost every academic exercise. In fact, problematic behaviors have been shown to reduce by 70-85% within a short 3-4 month span of proper implementation of the PAX GBG. Unfortunately, research also shows that across North America problematic behaviors today have jumped from 35-50 per 15 minutes in the 2000s to a shocking 100-150 behaviors per 15 minutes. The good news is that PAX GBG has proven to reduce the instances of problematic behavior by 50-85% when PAX has been implemented successfully. Not only does the research scream success when PAX GBG is implemented properly, but teachers have reported lower stress levels with their improved ability to instruct and lead classes.

Teachers who are implementing cannot praise this initiative enough:

  • “PAX GBG gives teachers the results we want from our students while giving students the fun they desire.”
  • “Since we started PAX, students at all grade levels are taking ownership for their own actions both academically and socially.”
  • “PAX improves student behaviors, helps them to focus on their tasks and teaches them teamwork, cooperation and self-respect.”

CASAC is overwhelmingly grateful to have the opportunity to provide technical assistance and support to partnering school districts because the successful implementation of the PAX GBG means:

  • “Giving teachers and students 1-2 extra hours of time to teach and learn
  • Increase reading and math skills/reading for your poorest students without change in curriculum
  • Reduce problematic (disturbing, disruptive and inattentive) behavior in 2-3 months by 40% to 75 %
  • Reduce ADHD and emotional problems among most of your students within a few months
  • Stop violent injuries or weapons carrying at schools
    Dramatically reduce suspensions among children from historic disparities
  • Significantly reduce the need for special education among students, and increase high school graduation and university entry among students
  • Increase lifetime income of your students, which helps our country’s economic stability and future
  • Reduce bullying incidents
  • And prevent suicides

In the words of the CASAC’s Executive Director, Melanie Witkowski, “We are beyond excited to partner with local schools in Chautauqua to implement the Trauma Informed PAX Good Behavior Game. There are so many youth and families that are struggling with mental emotional health issues, which often leads to using substances, whether it’s to escape or cope with their stressors. Studies have shown that even 1 year of the PAX Good Behavior Game significantly reduced lifetime drug use and problematic behaviors.” We are optimistic that this Evidenced-Based program will provide some positive outcomes for the youth, schools and the community.”

Since 1974, CASAC, a not-for-profit United Way partner agency, has been dedicated to providing prevention education and community awareness pertaining to alcohol, other drugs and compulsive gambling. CASAC is the only New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) approved and supported alcohol and other drug prevention agency in Chautauqua County. CASAC is one of forty community based councils across the state and one of over two-hundred nationwide. For further information about CASAC programs and services, call the Jamestown office at 664-3608, or the Dunkirk office at 366-4623, or go to CASAC’s website,