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Published: Tuesday, 5/7/2002

Pilot program to target drug prevention

Pupils at Stewart Elementary School this fall will take part in a pilot program for Toledo Public Schools that aims to bring a holistic approach to preventing drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse.

Rather than simply providing information about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, the LifeSkills Training program, which is used in 3,000 schools across the nation, attempts to get at more comprehensive issues to reduce high-risk behavior.

“Drug use is not a cognitive issue alone. It's a social and emotional issue,” said Dr. Celia Williamson, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Toledo whose students helped propose the program for the elementary school. The program teaches self-management skills and general social skills.

The central-city elementary was targeted for the program because it is one of the few in the district that does not already have a drug prevention program. The three-year program would begin with either third or fourth-graders, Dr. Williamson said.

“I am remarkably excited about it,” said Principal Debra Weaver. “By not giving them information, we are leaving a hole for them to experiment.”

The hope is to bring the program, developed by a Cornell University professor, to other schools in the district if it proves successful, Dr. Williamson said. The cost is estimated at $5,600, and more than half of that will come from the Toledo Youth Commission. The rest will come from city council or private fund-raising, Toledo Councilman Michael Ashford said.

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