CARE program substance abuse lessons have far-reaching impact

By Lydia Goerner | Sep 20, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner In August, students incorporated their research on drug addiction into a skit.

The Office of Beyond School Time kept kids busy this summer, with 275 enrolled in the summer programs this year, but the group with particularly powerful results was a group of 13 students in the CARE program.

The summer club, CARE program and SAIL program for high schoolers were all well-attended. The summer club’s theme was HATS: Honor Achieved Through Service. For a group of students in the CARE program, the acronym meant something else: Healthy Alternatives to Substance Abuse.

The 13 students in this section of the summer CARE program partnered with the Brent Hastings Foundation and learned about proper use of medications, said Office of Beyond School Time Director Jane Fondulis at Wednesday’s Wareham School Committee meeting.

Students worked with local substance abuse experts, heard from guest speakers, made pamphlets with their findings and fundraised for the Brent Hastings Foundation. At the end of the summer, these CARE students put on a skit for the rest of the students.

Since the program ended, organizers have evaluated its impact on the community. They found people engaged with the information on social media, the students worked with community groups and raised funds and “became powerful advocates,” Paling said.

School Committee Chair Judy Caporiccio asked whether the sensitive topic raised issues for some students.

The students did have the opportunity to discuss their personal experiences, Paling said, but it was healthy for them to have a safe space to talk about it. The adults were sure to steer the conversation in a positive direction.

School Committee Vice-Chair Geoffrey Swett suggested following the 13 students around to see if it has an impact on their choices in the future.

“Imagine how you would feel if you could track these kids,” Swett said. He proposed taking a random urine sample from the students in the coming years, with their parents’ permission, to see if the program could reduce the likelihood of young people experimenting with drugs.

The students passed out over 200 pamphlets at the CARE Fair to parents and students, educating the community about substance abuse. They raised $230 in their fundraiser selling slime and fidget spinners.

The implications for teaching and learning include facts and terminology being learned, students conducting investigations and solving problems, students discussing open-ended questions and developing summaries of their information, then writing reports and designing posters and media presentations.

“They were amazing,” Paling said. “We learned as much as they did along the way.”

Comments (3)
Posted by: SammieJfive | Sep 26, 2017 12:16

As a recovering addict, I was surprised that there were no comments on this amazing program! Teaching prevention of addiction is such a huge part of trying to end the Opiate cycle. I applaud this program, and I'm also excited that the Wareham school system is interested enough in our youth to take their time and energy to CARE in implementing prevention of abuse. It all starts with having the conversation. I wish more communities would implement this program. The seed has been planted in these 13 amazing students, and it's now time to pass the torch onto other communities! Job well done!!!!

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 26, 2017 13:22


Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 26, 2017 13:22

Sammie, it is great to hear that you are recovering.  Keep it up!  I believe I commented on this program in an earlier article about it. I do recall my first impression was a bit protective of the youngest kids at Wareham Middle.  5th graders attend that school.  Most 5th graders still believe in Santa Clause.  Part of me feels that 10 year olds are too young for this topic.  Then again, this program is a success if just one life is saved or just one family doesn't have to endure the pain of an addicted family member. So I guess it's the lesser of two evils to make little ones aware at such young ages.  Its a good thing all around.

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