I watched several children playing their hearts out yesterday at the soccer camp hosted by Vancouver Coastal Aboriginal Sport and Recreation. They were exhausted but all smiles when they were required to take a break to go home for dinner with the invitation to return for another session. I recognized all of the children especially the ones who had been seen in the office lately. They played well together and happily took their turn in goal when it was time to change. If you are on Facebook, check out the Heiltsuk Nation group to see the photos that I posted.
I am thinking of these students as tomorrow we will be holding a pro d-day with community members and the entire BBCS staff to raise our awareness of underage drinking and drug use in our community. We need to do all that we can to prevent bored or disengaged children from starting down the path of underage drinking. We need to raise awareness about the prevalence of underage drinking. Dr. Evan Adams, aboriginal health physician adviser in the office of the Provincial Health Officer reiterates the message: “It (meetings) have to be initiated by us – as First Nations – and it needs to happen at every level.” For that reason, a meeting, which took place just over a week ago, will occur on a monthly basis to ensure that community members are engaged with the steps that we take to address the concern. Hosting a pro d day to raise the awareness of our entire staff at BBCS is the schools’s commitment to one of the important goals that the community considers to be a high priority.
Tomorrow, teachers will be apprised of the goals that emerged from that meeting and they will be introduced to curricula, which was developed by the Centre for Addictions. iMinds is a health education resource for grades 4-10 that aims to help students maximize their drug literacy – the knowledge and skills they need to survive and thrive in a world where drug use is common. Sports and recreation plays such an important role in the lives of many of the children who play basketball in Bella Bella but for those who do not; we need to provide other options. If kids can go fishing or play soccer or other recreational sports, then they are not only keeping healthy, they are avoiding being bored and taking the path that may lead them to underage drinking. Here’s what Larry Bird has to say about being involved in athletics and recreation:
Coaching your students to remain drug free is a championship. Join our team. Larry Bird Coach—Indiana Pacers Former Boston Celtic 1998 Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee 12-Time All Star 3-Time NBA MVP 2-Time NBA Finals MVP
For anyone involved in coaching, please take time to read through this highly informative Coaches Playbook Against Drugs. In particular, look at page 15.
Take some time to look at the resources from the imind curricula, which has been reviewed and approved by the British Columbia Teachers Federation School Counsellors Association. Teachers will have an opportunity tomorrow to review the highly acclaimed curricula for use in classrooms not as an add-on, but as supplemental to what is already being taught. A facilitator from imind will meet with us via skpye to introduce the curricula to us. Afterwards teachers will have an opportunity to review it in cross-grade groups.
A FNESC publication provides ten suggestions in dealing with drug and alcohol issues.
- Face reality and know what’s going on. Do not ignore or de-emphasize the impact of student drug and alcohol use on the learning environment of the school.
- Take a stand. Be consistent about the school’s opposition to drug and alcohol use.
- Organize staff to address the issue.
- Teach health and prevention to students, and possibly in parenting workshops as well.
- Showcase special projects such as peer counseling, drug-free clubs, and drug and alcohol awareness weeks.
- Provide a safety net of support for anyone who is affected by drug and alcohol abuse.
- Nurture the parent connection and ensure that drug and alcohol awareness effort are coordinated in partnership and with parent reinforcement at home.
- Deal with staff drug and alcohol problems, and ensure that the school staff members act as role models for the students.
- Provide healthy outlets and alternatives, including extra-curricular activities physical education activities, and high academic expectations.
- Keep at it.
School is not just about teaching to the IRPS; it’s about providing interventions when children are struggling with numeracy or literacy and it is about intervening when issues impact a student’s ability to attend to the daily requirements of being a student. The latter is what tomorrow morning is about.
On October 19, a group of community people, chiefs, and elders will meet to have a conversation with the students to show our care and concern for what happens to them.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions, as I am truly interested in others’ experiences with addressing underage drinking and its impact on young people.