Peer-to-Peer Programs are the Cutting Edge of Substance Abuse Prevention in Today’s Youth

The New York ‘Shattering the Myths’ premiere concluded with a media debrief which involved media, partners, and sponsors receiving an in-depth view of the mission and programs behind Mentor Foundation USA.

22 April 2016 | News

Ichabod Crane High School youth ambassadors Meredith, Megan and Alex.

Three youth ambassadors from Ichabod Crane High School and their Principal, Craig Shull, joined students at the High School of Economics & Finance for the event on April 20th, 2016. The students attended the program and were interviewed by press to describe their experience as peer advocates for drug prevention.

Peer-to-Peer prevention programs are the cutting edge of what is being used to educate and inform young people and Mentor Foundation USA is very excited to be expanding these types of programs outside its Washington D.C. headquarters to schools in NY and beyond.

Gunilla Girardo, President & CEO, Mentor Foundation USA

What is a ‘youth ambassador’?  They are volunteers within a school that create their own special activities to highlight either the effects of drug abuse or examples of living a drug free and happy life. The Ichabod youth ambassadors Megan, Meredith and Alex described their projects which was a part of a ‘Shattering the Myths’ week held at their school with help from our facilitators. Their ideas included a ‘dream wall’ where students wrote down their future goals, an activity in phys-ed class where they would breathe through a straw while exercising to simulate the effects of smoking on the lungs, and a trivia contest where students answered questions about substance abuse and won a ‘Living The Example’ t-shirt as a prize for correct answers

…the success of the programs depends on the kids

Craig Shull, Principal at Ichabod Crane High School

These students were asked how the program differed from other drug prevention programs that they had at their school and if they thought this program was more effective.  Meredith noted that they received questions from their fellow students weeks after the events were held. George Washington University Professor of Prevention, Community & Global Health, Dr. Doug Evans, who is currently conducting studies to determine attitudes pre-and-post prevention activity stated, “there were 347 students initially surveyed who would be polled again at the end of the school year to see if the program had an effect on their perceptions about substance abuse.” Alex pointed out that “the difference between having someone come in to the school and talk to them as one large group for an hour or two and having Mentor programs that were activity-driven and fun in addition to being led by students had made all the difference in student participation.”

Ann-Sofie Naslund, from the Swedish Daily Expressen Magazine, asked, “Do a lot of students do drugs in American high schools?” Meredith responded that “it was becoming more normal to be around drugs and that it is no secret that some high school students in all schools do abuse drugs.”  She emphasized, “the goal of both the ‘Shattering the Myths’ and the youth ambassadors for the ‘Living the Example’ programs at Ichabod is to fight the idea that drugs are ok to use or that it is normal behavior.”