New Drug Education Resource Launched in Schools

Education (to March 26, 2013)/Health Promotion and Protection (To Jan. 11)

May 17, 2007 1:33 PM

Mock game shows, graffiti-making, role-playing and a host of other creative learning strategies are a key part of a new classroom resource that helps junior high students make better choices about drugs and alcohol.

A Question of Influence, a Teacher's Drug Education Resource for the Grades 7-9 Health/Personal Development and Relationships program, was introduced to schools today, May 17, by the province.

The resource, field-tested in almost 40 schools across Nova Scotia, is designed to better prepare junior high students for the risks, and challenges, they will face as they get older.

"It can be a dangerous world out there. Our students are facing a wide variety of subtle and not-so-subtle influences beyond the school grounds -- not all of them positive," said Education Minister Karen Casey. "I am confident that A Question of Influence will have a positive impact on the decisions students make in their lives."

Many drug-education programs tend to focus on urging students to stay clear of all harmful substances, while devoting a great deal of class time on the physiological and psychological effects of a variety of drugs.

A Question of Influence -- built on the best practices from drug-education curriculum from around the world -- focuses primarily on helping students understand, and deal with, the factors that influence substance-use decisions. It aims to create greater awareness of three spheres of influence -- personal, social or interpersonal, and cultural or environmental -- and to develop skills to analyze and minimize their impact. Each unit is tailored to meet the needs of each grade level.

The Grade 7 unit is designed to prevent or delay substance use by providing students with the skills they need to identify what influences their decisions. The Grade 8 unit emphasizes sound decision-making by helping students clearly understand the risks and harms linked to substance use. The last unit addresses the real possibility that Grade 9 students may find themselves in high-risk situations, and teaches techniques to help them get out of difficult circumstances.

"A Question of Influence will teach young teens ways to reduce and avoid substance use during a critical period in their development," said Health Promotion and Protection Minister Barry Barnet.

The resource targets alcohol and cannabis, the two substances Nova Scotia junior high students are most likely to encounter, according to the 2002 Nova Scotia Student Drug Use Survey.

Teacher Alexander MacDougall, who piloted the resource at Bedford Junior High, says the critical thinking skills promoted by A Question of Influence are making a difference.

"This new resource contains materials, examples and activities which really do speak to today's students," he said. "Its emphasis on decision-making and choices is appropriate for our young people."


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     The province introduced a new drug education resource

today (May 17th), designed to help teachers teach junior high

students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

     Education Minister Karen Casey and Health Promotion and

Protection Minister Barry Barnet officially launched the new

curriculum supplement for junior high school students at Bedford

Junior High.

     A Question of Influence, a Teachers Drug Education Resource

for the Grades 7-9 Health/Personal Development and Relationships

program, has been field-tested in almost 40 schools across Nova

Scotia, and is based on best-practice evidence that uses

educational activities that are proven effective with 12- to 14-

year-old.

     The resource uses role playing and other effective

strategies to engage students. Ms. Casey says she believes A

Question of Influence will have a positive impact on decisions

students make in their lives.

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Media Contacts: Peter McLaughlin
                Department of Education
                902-424-8307
                E-mail: mclaugpx@gov.ns.ca

                Brett Loney
                Health Promotion and Protection
                902-424-6527
                E-mail: loneybm@gov.ns.ca