This week, King’s Academy held a four-day long substance use prevention campaign in cooperation with Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), a leading provider of school-based prevention services, to provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to make intelligent, healthy choices.
Running the program for the fourth consecutive year, King’s continued to follow a holistic approach by organizing a school-wide campaign that reached all students from grades 7 to 12. Grades 8 and 10 attended more intensive workshops with three prevention specialists from FCD, while sessions for seniors focused on preparing them for the future. Additional workshops took place for peer counselors, proctors and the Student Leadership Council (SLC), as well as for house heads, dorm parents, health center staff and faculty.
In order to be more accessible to parents, this year’s parent session was generously hosted by King’s Academy board member and parent Sirine Abu Ghazaleh P ’20, ’23 at her home in Amman, and Arabic translation was provided to ensure language was no barrier. Some 75 parents attended the very engaging session, with many requesting further educational sessions for parents on a variety of issues.
“It is always great to get some support and enforcement in this highly demanding world,” said Mirna Kour Fanous P ’23 ’24. “It was very, very useful.”
King’s also invited counselors from schools in Amman to participate in a workshop, with 15 counselors from International Community School, American Community School, Amman Baccalaureate School and De La Salle College attending.
According to FCD prevention specialists George Brown, Katie Greeley and Mary Davis, education and early intervention are key to effective prevention of addictive and unhealthy behaviors. To that end, the specialists provided teachers and parents with knowledge, tips and tools to recognize risk factors, in addition to ways of preventing unhealthy behavior.
The specialists spoke to students about topics including how the teen brain works and why younger people are more vulnerable to addiction; risk factors and common reasons why kids may use tobacco, alcohol or other drugs; and how misperceptions about social norms lead to unhealthy decisions.
As in previous years, the campaign was informed by data gathered from surveys that students took the year before and again prior to the campaign’s start. This allowed FCD to offer more powerful guidelines and recommendations based on real data from the survey.
The specialists explained that one of the most common reasons behind students making unhealthy choices is that people tend to do what they perceive everybody else to be doing. So, for example, if teenagers have the mistaken perception that most older students vape, they are more likely to try an e-cigarette.
“A vocal minority are making unhealthy choices; they are not the norm, but they become a topic of discussion and gossip, and that can shift perception of health in the community pretty quickly,” explains Greeley on the importance of fact-based health education. “The survey data presents a snapshot of the culture here. So, it’s letting students know that if they make a healthy choice, they are already fitting in, they are in the majority.”
Through education, honest communication and objective data, students learn what is really true, rather than what they perceive to be true, and subsequently have a better understanding of social norms, which empowers them to make healthier choices, according to the specialists.
“The good news is that the survey shows a lot of positive indicators which tell us that the majority of our students engage in healthy choices, feel connected, don’t think it’s ‘cool’ to use substances, and don’t feel pressured to,” says Director of Wellness and Advising Nada Dakhil. “We have a close-knit community here at King’s, very clear health expectations as well as a focus on preventative measures. That offers a huge protective factor for teenagers.”
For more information about King’s substance use prevention campaign, contact Wellness and Advising Director Nada Dakhil
- Freedom from Chemical Dependency