Elementary students at five Somerset County school districts will be exposed to a new curriculum designed to help them say "no" to negative influences.
The Learning Lamp of Johnstown is offering "Too Good For Drugs," a program funded by a two-year $122,886 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The program is a research-based curriculum that helps kids develop the skills to resist influences that lead to risk-taking behaviors like drinking alcohol.
According to outreach program coordinator Jill Dibuono, the curriculum was created to help kids learn about goal-setting and consequences, as well as how to deal with peer pressure.
"It's not just a drug and alcohol program," she said.
Participating Somerset County school districts include: Conemaugh Township, North Star, Shanksville-Stonycreek, Shade-Central City and Windber. The program is also provided at Blacklick Valley, Central Cambria, Cambria Heights, Ferndale, Forest Hills and Westmont Hilltop in Cambria County.
"Too Good For Drugs" curriculum is being taught at no charge to the districts.
Dibuono said the lessons are taught to third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at these 11 schools. It is expected to reach 1,400 total students in the area.
This age group was targeted because — according to a recent Pennsylvania Youth Survey — nearly one in five Cambria County sixth graders has used alcohol in his or her lifetime. By eighth grade, nearly half of children admitted to having tried alcohol.
Somerset County figures mirror those trends, indicating that the onset of drug and alcohol use typically occurs at ages 10-11 or when children are in fourth and fifth grades.
"We're giving them the skills to make the decision not to use these products," Dibuono said.