Middle, high school teachers to encourage healthy living
JERSEY SHORE — A new health program is coming to Jersey Shore School District.
Geisinger Medical Center held training recently at Jersey Shore High School for health and physical education teachers who teach grades 6 through 12 within the
district. Muncy Area School District also participated.
The program “Too Good for Drugs” addresses not only the education of students about the dangers of drugs, but also the emotional and mental impacts it can have in an interactive manner.
“The idea of the program is to not stand up here and lecture at them,” Abigail Wesner, a member of Geisinger Health and Wellness, said.
The “Too Good for Drugs” program has existed for decades through the Mendez Foundation’s Too Good program.
The program is a comprehensive family of substance use and violence prevention curriculum designed to mitigate the risk factors associated with risky behavior and build protection within the child.
The goal of the Too Good for Drugs program is to help promote health and safe life skills, build character values, learn resistance skills associated with unsafe behaviors and negative peer pressure all through a 10-week interactive program.
Geisinger’s program initially began in 2018 with 16 Health and Wellness employees trained to go to schools to help teach the program.
The opioid epidemic played a role in Geisinger’s step into the Too Good program.
“Geisinger recognizes the opioid epidemic in our communities,” Katrina Conrad, a member of Geisinger’s Health and Wellness department, said.
Conrad said they realized that the program could have a bigger impact if individual teachers were able to follow the program on their own.
So the 16 employees trained and became Master Trainers, allowing them to teach the curriculum to health and physical education teachers and guidance counselors throughout central Pennsylvania.
“We can reach more children in the community and we’re providing them with the curriculum,” Katrina said.
The program has a pre- and post-exam that offers the Health and Wellness department a look into how well the program is doing.
“We’re seeing an average of 10 percent increase in (students’) test scores,” she said.
A student survey is also taken at the beginning and end of each program and that is also seeing an increase, she continued.
“It’s great because it’s showing it’s working,” she said.
Although the word “drugs” is in the title of the program, that’s not the only focus.
“The focus is not on drugs,” Abigail said. “The first five lessons involve skill building. It builds that foundation.”
The first five steps are: goal setting, decision making, identifying and managing emotions, effective communication and bonding and relationships.
Students are more willing to talk about personal issues and reach out after they’ve gone through the first five steps, Abigail said.
After the first five lessons are complete, the program then dives deeper into the dangers of drugs with each lesson focusing on a specific type.
Various interactive activities such as games and discussion are implemented in the program to help engage students.
The games can be similar to popular games that help engage the kids.
They include a “Forensic Files” game which has students work through police reports and evidence to figure out what drug may be involved.
“It’s a really fun program,” Katrina said.
During training, teachers participate in the games to give them a chance to see the program from the students’ perspectives.
“We really like them to kind of sit and play the games,” she said.
Jersey Shore High School Principal Steven Keen said the program was brought to the district in an effort to start a health sciences career pathway at the high school.
The district currently has five pathways and students have been requesting a more health-oriented pathway, Keen said.
“This is just one program of the health science pathway,” he said. “Health science is one of the great needs in out area. We have the need and the demand from the students.”
The program was initial suggested by the Physical Education Department, he said.
It will also provide much needed education on health issues, he continued.
“We’re no different from any other schools when it comes to those social concerns,” he said.