Summer camp to keep teenagers from bad habits held in Saipan

By Lori Lyn Lirio

William S. Reyes Elementary School counselor Rebecca J. Flores teaching life skills lesson to fifth grade students at the second week of summer camp program. Photo by Lori Lyn Lirio

TO ween teenagers away from bad habits and behaviors that put them at risk, the William S. Reyes Elementary School in Saipan recently held a summer camp program that focuses on teaching children life skills.

About 60 students – composed of third, fourth and fifth graders from WSR participated. The facilitators are counselors and teachers, who took eight-hour online Botvin Life Skills course.

According to WSR principal Naomi Nishimura, the Life skills program was funded through a grant from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Substance Prevention Services of the Community Guidance Center. The program is being coordinated by Achieve, a private, non-profit organization committed to promoting healthy lifestyle and social emotional wellness.

One of the facilitators Rebecca J. Flores, WSR counselor, said the summer program aims to promote healthy alternatives through activities designed to help youth resist social pressures to smoke, drink alcohol, and use of drugs.

The program’s curriculum also include lessons to develop self-esteem, self-mastery, and self-confidence; effectively cope with social anxiety; increase knowledge of the immediate and long-term consequences of substance abuse; and enhance cognitive and behavior competency to reduce and prevent a variety of health risk behaviors.

Nishimura said this is the first time they implemented the program in three grade levels.

“We are trying to build a community of students that will stay away from unwanted behavior and keep them away from that influence. We are piloting this program in hopes somehow we can incorporate it in our yearly activities,” the principal said.

The 15-day summer camp started on June 11.

The program, Nishimura said, was first presented last school year to fifth graders.

Flores said there were 29 fifth graders who completed the eight sessions of the life skills curriculum. She taught the lessons twice weekly in a span of five weeks.

“The Botvin Life Skills Training is an evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program used in schools and communities throughout the U.S. and in 39 countries around the world. LST has been extensively tested and prove to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. It is effective when implemented with different delivery formats, when taught by different providers, and when delivered to different populations. It also works with elementary school, middle school, and high school students. Long-term follow-up studies show that it produces prevention effects that are durable and long-lasting,” Flores said in a later statement.

Nishimura said the group of students who will undergo in this program will be tracked year by year all the way to Hopwood Middle School – WSR’s co- recipient in the grant which has the same program for its students.

“So we will be able to collect data and see where we will be at with this program.”

 

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