Fight substance abuse with brain power

| 12 Mar 2015 | 03:20

Delaware Valley Elementary School fourth graders have been learning and discussing the scientific facts about alcohol and substance abuse and the effect on their bodies. They have made strong pledges to remember these facts as they continue to learn more about these serious hazards, and as they make important choices in their future.

Students samplingsThe following sentences, written by a small sampling of the fourth grade students who completed the Brain Power program in their school, are typical of the program’s post class survey.

“Marijuana is addictive. Heroin is a brain destroyer. Drugs are very bad for you. Brain power is awesome! I pledge to never use drugs.” — Evan McDermott

“Drugs are addictive. Alcohol can hurt you very bad. Cocaine is illegal. I will never do drugs when I am older.” — Leah Haas

“One fact about Brain Power is that drugs are addictive. If you drink beer or wine and drive, you can get pulled over. You can die from an overdose. Beer and wine are illegal until you are 21. Brain Power taught me not to do drugs.” — Emily Henn

“A lot of drugs can make your brain start to shut down. Cocaine and marijuana are really bad, and they’re illegal. Drugs are not good for you, and they’re not good for your body. So don’t do drugs or you could end up in jail one day. That is why I will never drink. Brain Power helps us stay away from drugs.” — Eddie Nieves

“Drugs are addictive. Drugs and alcohol can make you do stuff you’re not in control of. If you drink and drive, you can get arrested or in a serious car accident. If you smoke too much, you can get cancer. If you drink too much, you can hurt someone or yourself. In conclusion, alcohol and drugs are bad for you and I will never do drugs or drink alcohol in my life. Brain Power taught me so much about how drugs and alcohol are bad for you.” — Aneliesa Aponte

Brain PowerThis sampling of remarks is similar to the others scripted by fourth graders who recently took part in Brain Power at DVES. Brain Power, a six-week educational, scientifically based program, is taught to all DVSD fourth graders. It is designed to teach students about drugs and alcohol and the negative physical effect of such substances on their brains.

“Students learn to make good choices when faced with drug and alcohol issues. They learn how to say no to drugs and alcohol, and why they should say no,” explained Elaine Tucker, Prevention Specialist for Delaware Valley School District. “They are not just told not to use these substances, but are taught facts about both legal and illegal drugs and given chances to role play situations they might one day face.”

Brain Power is part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA’s) mission to enlist the power of science in helping to fight drug abuse and addiction. The program teaches students about their brain, nervous system, and the effect of drugs on their body.

Over a six-week period, students completed six modules:

Drugs in Society (discussion about legal and illegal drugs)

Your Amazing Brain (parts of the brain)

Neurotransmission (brain chemicals)

How Stimulants Affect the Nervous System

Alcohol, Marijuana, Inhalants
What is addiction?

In addition to the Brain Power program taught in fourth grade, DVSD’s substance abuse programs include curriculum-boosting drug and alcohol education taught in each of the grades throughout a student’s school career. These include Brain Power in fourth grade, D.A.R.E. in fifth and seventh grade, and ninth and 11th grade substance abuse programs presented by school resource officers.

Tucker, along each fourth grade homeroom teacher, praised Brain Power’s ability to teach students the negative effects of substance abuse on their developing brains and bodies.

“National statistics show that the age a child begins using drugs or alcohol is now 11 or 12 years old. It is critical that we intervene before a student is faced with that decision,” said Tucker. "Students are very receptive to learning about the ill effects of substance abuse at this age."

She went on to say that "DVSD should be commended for implementing prevention programs at such a young age."