Making the right choices
When is a good time to teach kids about responsibility and consequences?
Pierce County Sheriff Matt Lunde and Rugby City Police Chief Luis Coca think there’s no time like the present.
The pair and other department personnel have been working with fifth and sixth graders at Ely and Little Flower Schools teaching them about life skills. The program is called CounterACT. ACT stands for alcohol, chemicals and trouble.
The program’s teaching materials deal with such issues as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, violence, bullying and risky behavior.
“At this age, the kids are easily influenced,” Lunde said. “What we try to do with this program is to teach them the skills to make the right choices now and beyond.”
The students take part in six sessions which involve discussion and role playing. They are also assigned homework where they have a chance to enlist the help of their parents. At home and at school they are able to talk about influences and consequences of bad behavior.
“There’s a lot to team building,” Lunde added. “The kids, parents and law enforcement are working together to help kids make the right choices.”
Both Lunde and Coca said the program is a great opportunity to them to build relationships with the community and the children. The kids tend to start out very quiet and reserved, but by the end of the six-week session, they are laughing, joking and interacting with the law enforcement officials. It’s a way for them to get to know the police force and break down barriers of fear that might exist.
The CounterAct Program is a prevention program developed jointly by the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center and the Golden Valley Police Department of Golden Valley, Minnesota.
It is designed to bring together schools, families, and law enforcement agencies to serve as a source of support and to encourage children to make healthy behavior choices. The program focuses on the harms of alcohol, chemicals and tobacco, and enforces positive alternatives and teaches how to resist peer pressure.
Students have the opportunity to learn about positive and negative influences and identify techniques that can be used to fight the pressure to use alcohol, drugs and violence. The entire program is built around three main themes: “You Decide;” “You’re in Charge;” and “We’re a Team.”
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