For many years, people have often said, “The future belongs to our children,” while others have suggested that, “Our kids are our today.”
The Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare has diligently sought to obtain avenues of assistance to continue to help the kids in Craig.
“For an amazing 13th year in a row (with two more years to come), a grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth has provided Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare (BRBH) the opportunity to offer prevention services in Craig County,” J.D. Carlin, a Prevention Specialist at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and a part of the CPPT and Coalition Team, said. “And the results have been wonderful!”
Added JD, “The curriculum we are using is Too Good For Drugs (TGFD), and it has been a great fit in large part due to having a specific program available for every grade level, K through eighth.”
TGFD is based on improving the factors that protect youth while reducing the factors that put youth at risk. It focuses on five key life skills:
- Goal Setting
- Decision Making
- Bonding with Others
- Identifying and Managing Emotions, and
- Communicating Effectively
Specifically, TGFD is designed to develop:
- personal/interpersonal skills helping young people resist alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug use
- appropriate attitudes toward alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug use
- knowledge of the negative consequences of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug use and benefits of a drug-free lifestyle, and
- positive peer norms.
Carlin noted that, “having a BRBH Prevention Specialist and/or Craig County Public School (CCPS) Guidance Counselor work with every kindergarten, first grade, second grade, sixth grade and seventh grade student in Craig over a six-year time period means that at the end of the VFHY grant, almost every CCPS student will have experienced the TGFD curriculum at least three times, and in many cases, four or five times. Only in a locality as unique as Craig can such a positive statement be made.”
In reviewing data collected by a BRBH Prevention Specialist and the Guidance Counselors from McCleary Elementary School and Craig County Middle School, the most recent data available for the middle school students from 2017-2018 Academic Year, shows the kind of success wanted for all youth participating in prevention programs as some considerable results were achieved.
Some of the outcomes shown by posttests taken by the 68 students who completed the program include:
- 84.6 percent reported perceived harm from tobacco use to be moderate to great
- 89.6 percent reported their parents had expressed disapproval of tobacco use as wrong to very wrong
For elementary aged students (kindergarten, first and second-grade students), the numbers appear just as strong. Some of the data from the past academic year (2017-2018) includes great results such as:
- 99 percent reported that it is not safe to use tobacco.
- 98 percent reported that breathing in tobacco smoke is not good for your lungs.
- 98 percent reported that when you have to make a decision, you should “stop and think.”
“While these results show many positives, we want to make sure to continue to reinforce the good messages your children will receive, and this is where we need your help,” Carlin said. “We ask all parents to tell their children that they do not approve of them using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and that using any of these substances is harmful to their health and wellbeing.”
The Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare Team shared that they believe, that part of what can be concluded from this information is that no matter what challenges kids face, differences in the lives of youth can be made when given the needed resources.
“Simply put, better knowledge really does equal better decisions,” they explained. “While this may have been known from our experiences listening to youth for many years now, the numbers tell us that prevention is effective.”
Carlin added, “We are making things better, and, with enough resources, it can happen anywhere. Craig County is a beautiful place to live and work, and with healthier youth, it is only getting better.”