The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition was awarded the Iowa Partnership for Success (IPFS) Grant in 2015 to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition’s IPFS project is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In June of 2016 the Iowa Department of Public Health approved the use of the Botvin Life Skills Training Curriculum at the Van Buren Community Jr. /Sr. High School to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County. On July 20, 2016 the Van Buren Community School Board approved the implementation of the program in the 7th and 8th grade Explore Rotation beginning in the 2016-17 school year with the 7th grade class.
During the 2016-17 school year the Middle School Principal, Chuck Banks, and the Life Skills Teacher, Mindie Donald, decided to include both the 7th and 8th grade students in the Level I Life Skills classes during their Explore Rotation. All but two students completed the full program during the 2016-17 school year. The pre and post-surveys showed an increase in understanding of skills in addressing self-image and self-improvement, making decisions, smoking: myths and realities, smoking and biofeedback, alcohol: myths and realities, marijuana: myths and realities, advertising, violence and the media, coping with anxiety, coping with anger, communication skills, social skills, assertiveness, and resolving conflicts. Mrs. Donald has shared that the classes allowed for good discussion, had good involvement, and are helpful for the students in Van Buren County.
In the 2017-18 school year the new 7th grade students will participate in Level I of the program and 8th grade students will participate in Level II as the Life Skills Curriculum builds on the information provided each year.
The Botvin LifeSkills Training Middle School program is a groundbreaking substance abuse and violence prevention program based on more than 30 years of rigorous scientific research. LifeSkills Training is comprehensive, dynamic, and developmentally designed to promote positive youth development. In addition to helping kids resist drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, the LifeSkills Training Middle School program also effectively supports the reduction of violence and other high-risk behaviors.
The program learning objectives area as follows:
· Personal Self-Management Skills: Students develop skills that help them enhance self-esteem, develop problem-solving abilities, reduce stress and anxiety, and manage anger.
· General Social Skills: Students gain skills to meet personal challenges such as overcoming shyness, communicating clearly, building relationships, and avoiding violence.
· Drug Resistance Skills: Students build effective defenses against pressures to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.