According to the latest study on teen drug use in the United States, 8.1 percent of eighth-graders used illicit drugs during any given month in 2015. A number like this could be seen as discouraging given the efforts schools and other organizations make to combat drug use in adolescents. But it could also be viewed another way: 91.9 percent of eighth-graders hadn’t used drugs during that time. That can be seen as a success—success that can be benchmarked, celebrated and built upon in the future.
Informed Families created the All Star Safe, Healthy & Drug Free Schools program to recognize the student success that schools are achieving throughout Florida through prevention efforts. A school that completes Informed Families’ four drug prevention campaigns is eligible to be named an All Star School; one All Star School is selected in each of the state’s 67 counties. All Star Schools receive well-deserved media recognition and $1,000 of prevention merchandise for the next school year.
Student success is the primary benefit of striving toward All Star Schools status. Here’s a look at what schools can achieve through the initiative:
A Comprehensive Approach to Student Success
A correlation exists between teens using drugs and alcohol and their academic performance. According to a 2009 study, students with higher grades were less likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, and along the same lines, teens who refrained from risky behaviors were more likely to do better academically. The All Star Schools program takes a comprehensive approach toward student success by covering drug prevention from every angle and on an ongoing basis. The initiative is more than just one drug-free assembly lasting a few hours, but education and dialogue throughout the year.
Programs That Work
The four campaigns Informed Families sponsors to potential All-Star Schools resonate with students, educators and parents alike. Parents are so important to student success, and these programs invite them to be an important part of the process instead of on the sidelines. The four campaigns featured are:
- Family Day: Study after study has shown kids whose families eat frequent meals together are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Family Day challenges parents and kids to convene for a family dinner—which hopefully leads to more family dinners, more communication and more trust.
- Red Ribbon Week: The oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation, Red Ribbon helps families and schools educate students on the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
- Lock Your Meds: This campaign explores the dangers of prescription drug abuse and why locking meds up is so important in homes with teenagers.
- Safe Homes, Smart Parties: Parties—even supervised parties—with drugs and alcohol are inherently unsafe and put adolescents at risk, and this campaign guides parents to keeping their homes and communities safe and substance-free for teens.
Not only are these four campaigns effective, but they also are great launching points for schools that aren’t sure what approach to take with their students to ensure success.
In individual schools, these four campaigns are managed by “ambassadors”—teachers, counselors or administrators who are passionate about student success and keeping kids safe. Often, individuals tasked with their schools’ drug-free programs don’t have the resources available to initiate those programs. The All Star Schools program provides ambassadors everything they need and equips them with the information necessary to create a safer, healthier environment that fosters student success, both in the short term and the long run.
Time Well Spent
Time is often the enemy of drug prevention programs—they take time to initiate, but if students aren’t given the information they need to be safe now, later might be too late. However, schools and their teachers are so busy with other events that finding the time to create, research and execute campaigns is difficult. The Informed Families campaigns are designed to provide a powerful impact without overwhelming ambassadors and parents. This leaves more time to run the initiatives and really communicate with students
How do you define student success at your school?