Article Contributed by
Chautauqua Alcohol & Substance Abuse Council (CASAC)
The Chautauqua Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council (CASAC) was thrilled to partner, once again, with the Falconer Central School District this academic year. Beginning last fall, CASAC Prevention Educators joined Falconer classrooms, grades K-12, to implement their evidence-based drug and alcohol prevention programs. Touching on a variety of topics, these programs are designed to build life, refusal, and resiliency skills in students of all ages.
CASAC was once again awarded funding by the Chautauqua Regional Community Foundation (CRCF), enabling them to continue their prevention efforts in the Falconer School District. CRCF is funding the “Too Good for Drugs” program. This is an evidence-based curriculum developed by the Mendez Foundation. At the High School level, the program begins with life-skills topics like goal-setting and decision-making before seguing into alcohol and other drug topics. Emily Scholeno hosted CASAC Prevention Educator, Alexander Rodriguez, in her four health classes this past fall, with plans for three more classes to participate in the program later this year. Emily Scholeno states, “I am happy that CASAC is integrating the “Too Good” program in our Falconer Health Classes. It is always nice that they are able to touch on topics that are difficult to discuss for students. Students are really interested and engaged in the lessons-they look forward to it every week!”
Falconer and CASAC decided it was imperative to continue and expand these prevention efforts even more than last school year.
CASAC has also been busy in the younger grades, bringing the “Too Good” program to Fenner Elementary’s third, fourth, and fifth grade students as well as Kindergarten, First and Second at Temple Elementary School. Compared to the high school curriculum, the elementary “Too Good” program covers much of the same information, but aims to present it in an age-appropriate way. Through a variety of games, activities, and role-playing exercises, students cover the following topics: goal-setting, decision-making, conflict resolution, emotion management, bonding and relationships, assertive communication, community involvement, and drug awareness. Over the course of 8 weeks, Students learn the skills needed to lead safer, healthier, and happier lives.
At the Middle School, CASAC will be implementing the “Too Good” program with the seventh and eighth grade students in the Spring. CASAC’s Prevention Educators had the opportunity to expound on the dangers of electronic nicotine delivery systems via CASAC’s oft-requested, and newly-revamped, Vaping presentation.
Another evidence-based program is “SPORT: Prevention Plus Wellness”. In SPORT, students are taken through a combined prevention and fitness program. As in the “Too Good Program,” they learn habits to help minimize and avoid substance use. SPORT goes a step further though, encouraging students to increase physical activity, and educating them on the dangers of sugary and artificially stimulating drinks. Students in the middle school also receive the “Alcohol Literacy Challenge”. They learn how to sift through the commercial bombardment of a consumer culture that sells ideas, rather than products. CASAC educators lift the curtain on advertisement, and encourage students to question the ads they see. What belief is being sold? How does it match up with the information they already know? Exposing the efforts of alcohol companies to condition viewers often leads to intense discussion on what the true physical effects of alcohol actually are, versus the effects they feel simply because advertisements tell them to.
CASAC has also partnered with the district to provide a variety of wellness presentations and auxiliary courses. Prevention Educators, Trish Whetstone and Alexander Rodriguez, have spoken with faculty on recognizing and supporting children from chemically-dependent family systems. They have also run their Hidden in Plain Sight presentation for faculty and community members alike. In this program, participants had the opportunity to explore a mock teenage bedroom for hidden drug paraphernalia.
Every grade level will be receiving a program that supplements and saturates what the students are already receiving in their own classrooms. Jeff Jordan, High School Principal states, “Our district has really been benefitting from CASAC coming in to our classrooms, teaching our faculty and staff, and assisting our students who need the individual attention. This intervention service is for students who have been caught using substances or may need additional life skills. CASAC is able to provide education and social emotional support for all of our students.”
Associate Director/Director of Programs of CASAC, Laurie Reynolds, states, “We are really appreciative to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to provide these funds to educate our students in Falconer Central School District. In turn, we are truly grateful for the partnership we have with Falconer to be able to implement our prevention programs and services.”