King’s Academy, November 30, 2016 – King’s Academy launched a substance use prevention campaign last week to provide students, and the adults who care for them, with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to make intelligent, healthy choices. The campaign took place in conjunction with Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), a leading provider of school-based prevention services.
King’s has been working over the past few years to develop a school-wide climate of prevention. This collaborative process aims for the entire school community - students, parents, teachers and faculty - to be involved in promoting healthy young people by reducing risks, intervening on unhealthy behaviors and forming nurturing protections.
“By design, everything at school is linked to the whole when it comes to health and wellness,” said Wellness and Advising Director Nada Dakhil. “We want students to explore hobbies, connect with people, cope with emotions and have healthy outlets, whether through structured health and wellness sessions, or in class, through dorm life, or team activities such as sports or performing arts.”
During the substance use prevention campaign, three prevention specialists spent a week on campus meeting with small groups of students to discuss 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. According to the specialists, education and early intervention are key to effective prevention of addictive and unhealthy behaviors.
The FCD specialists explained that curiosity, stress, wanting to have fun, believing that everybody is doing it, and a lack of information are the most common reasons behind students making unhealthy choices. People tend to do what they perceive everybody else is doing, so if a teenager mistakenly perceives that most older students smoke, they are more likely to try a cigarette. However, the reality is that the majority of people are making healthy choices. The specialists noted that when students learn what is really true rather than what they perceive as true – through education, honest communication and objective data – they will have a better understanding of social norms, and will make healthier choices based on real information.
Teachers and parents were provided with knowledge, tips and tools to recognize risk factors and ways to prevent unhealthy behavior within a supportive structure that nurtures and protects the individual as well as the community as a whole. Some of these tips include modeling healthy behaviors, setting clear expectations and consequences, taking meals together, spending time listening and talking to teens about unhealthy behaviors, getting to know their friends, and knowing what is going on during times of increased risk.
“The data is telling us that kids are more at risk during holidays, weekends and after exams and graduation; these are times when there is less structure, or increased stress,” said Dakhil. “So communication is really one of the most important tools a parent has. Even for boarding students, talking online regularly or during weekends and holidays can be a really powerful prevention tool.”
Students in grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 participated in intensive sessions with the specialists, while sessions for seniors focused on preparing them for the future. Workshops were also held for proctors, peer counselors, house heads and dorm parents, as well as for parents, teachers and faculty. King’s also invited counselors and psychologists from schools and clinics in Amman to participate in a workshop, with over 30 professionals from 13 schools attending.
“After this campaign, we feel empowered to continue to learn and apply these prevention lessons to our school, and to know what works best for our students, families and community,” said Dakhil. “Strengthening the foundation of that message is ongoing, it’s in everything we do here every day at King’s.”
For more information about King’s substance use prevention campaign, contact Wellness and Advising Director Nada Dakhil.