As part of this year’s Red Ribbon Week Celebration (Oct. 24th-Oct. 28th) Mrs. Deborah Casagrande’s 7th grade health education students at Baird Middle School took part in various activities to better help them understand the negative and short term effects of drug and alcohol abuse; activities she has incorporated into the health curriculum for the past 5 years.
Casagrande explained that over the course of four days all 7th grade students experienced ten different stations of impairment that simulate the effects and dangers that drugs and alcohol can have on your body. Stations included: Puzzling (putting together a puzzle with impairment goggles and big gloves); Drugs Don't Add Up (completing math problems on calculators using goggles and big gloves); Walk the Line (trying to walk on a marked line while wearing impairment goggles); Rx (Prescriptions) Think Twice (activities to encourage students to think about the dangers of mixing prescription medications); Marshmallow (students read a script clearly with marshmallows in their mouth, to simulate how communication/speech can be impaired with substance use).
After each station students are required to complete a worksheet that asks three questions: What did you experience at this station?; How does this relate to drug use or abuse?; How can the effects be dangerous to someone using drugs or alcohol?.
On October 26th students were joined by DEA Agents from the Springfield Office - Supervisory Special Agent Dan Pomeroy, Special Agent James Clifford, Special Agent John Barron, Investigative Assistant Sandra Kozaczka and Intelligence Analyst Jennifer Fafard - who interacted and assisted students when experiencing the impairment stations. They also answered student directed questions and informed students of their role in promoting drug free living.
When participating in the Puzzling station, 7th grader Grace Leiper described completing the puzzle wearing the impairment goggles and gloves, “It’s like doing it in the tornado from the Wizard of Oz."
Casagrande is passionate about exposing students to the positive effects of leading a healthy lifestyle, and of making good choices. She stated that activities like stations of impairment help to reinforce this important life lesson beyond books, lectures and videos.
“By experiencing the simulation stations students are engaged in learning about the effects drugs and alcohol can have on a growing body. When we talk about what each station represents students question why people do drugs and why would someone think they can drink alcohol and drive a car when they can't even walk right,” shared Casagrande. “It opens up dialogue that gives students a chance to ask their questions in a safe environment and receive factual information, dispelling many interesting things they hear from peers and on television.”
Ms. Kristen Bunten, LPS Health Care Coordinator, enthusiastically gave support to this interactive, important and empowering activity, commenting, “It is no secret Massachusetts is in the midst of a public health crisis regarding addiction, especially opioid addiction. According to the September 2016 MA DPH opioid study, nearly one in ten Americans over the age of 12 are classified as having a substance use disorder. Addiction is a complex disease -- just as we teach that hand-washing can fight the spread of viral illness, we need to be teaching prevention of addictive substances, such as alcohol, prescription drugs, and opioids.”
“We will continue our Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drug Unit by participating in the All Stars Curriculum,” added Casagrande. “ This program prevents negative behaviors, drugs & alcohol, premature sexual activity, fighting, and delinquency, as well as, enhancing positive characteristics such as a belief in the future, commitment to a positive lifestyle, resiliency, a sense of belonging, and positive relations with parents and other adults.”
We welcome you to view the photo montage below of images from this program.
Photo Credits: Mrs. Deborah Casagrande, Ms. Kristen Bunten