Substance abuse has long been regarded by health officials, community leaders, educators, and parents alike as one of the most important problems facing this country. With over half a million deaths per year attributed to smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs, you can see the problem of substance abuse is real.
Youth today face monumental challenges, many of those challenges never have kids had to face! What can we do to help educate our youth on making wise decisions that will affect the rest of their life?
The UF/IFAS Taylor County 4-H Extension has been actively working with 6th graders in Taylor County, educating them on life skills that will help teens with those tough decisions. University of Florida received a two-year USDA Grant (PROSPER-PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) to focus on helping to prevent opioid use in rural counties. Taylor and Madison Counties were chosen to participate. The grant has 2 amazing components 1) Botvin Life Skills Program and 2) Strengthening Families Program 10-14 (SFP 10-14).
Since October 2022, trained Botvin Life Skills instructors, Abbey Tharpe, Rachel Higgs, Hannah Smyrnios, and Koatha Vaughn, have been going into the sixth-grade classrooms weekly and sharing the researched based Botvin Life Skills program (LST). The program does NOT strictly focus on prevention of drug and alcohol use, it is a comprehensive program that addresses all the most important factors that lead adolescents to use one or more drugs by teaching them a combination of health information, general life skills, and drug resistance-true life skills! Topics included self-image/self-improvement, making decisions, smoking, alcohol, and marijuana: myths and realities, advertising, violence and the media, coping with anxiety, coping with anger, communication skills, social skills, assertiveness, and resolving conflicts.
The program’s effectiveness is documented by over 30 years of rigorous evaluation research and has proven to reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs in a broad range of multi-ethnic and socio-economical groups. The UF/IFAS Taylor County 4-H Extension hope to continue to partner with the Taylor County Schools to continue this amazing program.
Strengthening Families Program 10-14
The second part of the grant is Strengthening Families Program 10-14 (SFP 10-14). SFP 10-14 is a seven-session program focused on reducing family-related risk factors for adolescent problem behaviors and building protective factors in young adolescent children and their parents/caregivers. SFP 10-14 includes specific activities designed to:
· Help parents/caregivers learn nurturing skills that support their children
· Teach parent/caregivers how to effectively discipline and guide their children
· Give youth a healthy future orientation and an increased appreciation of their parents/caregivers
· Teach youth skills for dealing with stress and peer pressure.
SFP 10-14 is designed for families with pre- and young adolescents, from age 10 to 14. Families will share a free family meal and then break-up into groups. Parents/caregivers and youth meet separately for the first hour, then spend the second hour together in family activities. Group size is 7 to 10 families. SFP 10-14 is appropriate for all types of families including single-parent, blended, grandparent led families, foster, or two-parent families. It is important that each youth attend the sessions with at least one adult. These adults could be either parents/caregivers or one parent/caregiver or another adult in the youth’s life-grandparent, aunt, uncle, or close family friend.
SFP 10-14 is another amazingly successful program that has been implemented in all 50 states and 18 countries with 30 years of scientific based research proving positive outcomes for families who took part in the program.
How to get involved
The Taylor County program will begin in late February and run for 7 consecutive weeks. This may sound like a lot, but your family and your children are worth it!! You are invited to come add tools for your parenting toolbox! For more information contact Abbey Tharpe at (850)-838-3508 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.