The Division of Public Health announced the launch of a life-skills pilot program at eight middle schools across Delaware to teach students the skills they need to prevent addiction, promote positive decision-making and reduce violence.

DPH is partnering with the Department of Education to bring the Botvin LifeSkills curriculum to the classroom. The Botvin LifeSkills Training Program is a comprehensive, evidence-based program, which provides adolescents and young teens with the con­fidence and skills necessary to successfully handle challenging situations.

The pilot program kicked off with a train-the-trainer session for 10 teachers who will be using the curriculum. Teachers learned interventions to address the social and psychological factors that lead to experimentation with drugs and other undesirable behaviors. Topics covered included self-image, decision-making, smoking, alcohol, marijuana, advertising, violence and the media, coping with anxiety, coping with anger, communication skills, social skills, assertiveness and resolving conflicts. The LifeSkills curriculum must be taught by a certified Botvin trainer.

DPH selected middle schools in the Capital, Indian River, Red Clay and Seaford school districts because they are located in areas with high overdose numbers. Through games, discussion, role-playing and other exercises, students practice refusing drugs, communicating with peers and adults, making choices in problem situations, and confronting peer pressure. Materials range from worksheets and posters, to videos and online content. Schools will decide individually how to best incorporate the 15 class sessions that run 30 to 45 minutes.

Training will be implemented in the 2017-18 school year, beginning with sixth-graders and reaching approximately 2,000 students. Students will complete pre- and post-tests, which Botvin will analyze and summarize for DPH.

Schools offering the Botvin LifeSkills curriculum are Brandywine Springs Middle School, Red Clay School District; William Henry and Central middle schools, Capital School District; Seaford Middle School, Seaford School District; and Selbyville, Millsboro and Georgetown middle schools and the Delaware School of the Arts, Indian River School District.

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