Keith Bullock, Student Assistance Program Coordinator
The Student Assistance Program at Downers Grove North High School delivers prevention activities, intervention services, and follow-up support for students and families. The goal of the program is to encourage students to make healthy lifestyle choices, succeed academically, and become more involved with school-based activities while developing leadership skills.
DGN sponsors a number of events and activities throughout the school year to engage and educate students about healthful lifestyles:
- Every October, we observe “Red Ribbon Week,” an awareness campaign about alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention. We have invited outside speakers to share their stories and struggles of addiction, which have helped to reinforce our messages about making positive lifestyle choices.
- Twice a year, all students are invited to an offsite retreat called “Operation Snowball.” Speakers focus on leadership, communication and drug-free lifestyles. This provides a foundation of information and skills for our students to make responsible decisions.
- We hold a variety of leadership programs throughout the school year, developing strong student leaders who in turn serve as positive peer role models. We also include information in Positively North lessons throughout the school year.
Guiding Our Work
Research shows that having data from our own population is essential in order to meaningfully address the health and well-being of students. As a result and in an effort to find solutions, District 99 volunteered to administer the Illinois Youth Survey (IYS) to all of its students in 2014.
The IYS is designed and processed by the Center for Prevention Research and Development at the University of Illinois. It is designed to gather meaningful information about a variety of health and social indicators, including substance use patterns and attitudes. The IYS is a voluntary survey, funded by the State of Illinois. Previously, District 99 surveyed students in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
By participating in the IYS, we receive information about student needs, challenges, behaviors, and strengths. It also allows us to monitor changes in behavior over time, and gives us information from which to base our program strategies. We’ve also been able to connect to State grant-funded partnerships by participating in the IYS.
In October 2014, we presented key findings from the IYS report to the Board of Education. More than 85% of District 99 students in all grades were surveyed in March 2014. Highlights of the results include:
- Most D99 students do not regularly use tobacco, drink alcohol or use illegal substances.
- Most of D99 students’ primary activities with friends are non-substance related.
- There are statistical declines in usage compared with 2008 data.
- D99 student use is of alcohol and substance use is similar to national, state and county trends.
- D99 student use of illicit drugs overall is low, and extremely low for substances like cocaine, meth and heroin.
Full IYS Reports
Focus for the Future
The IYS results support our continued use of a “social norms” marketing campaign, which emphasizes that “most teens” at District 99 do not abuse alcohol or drugs--challenging the inaccurate assumptions that “everyone is doing it.” We will continue to promote our efforts via this campaign, and to reach out to parents and families through social media and use of the hashtag #mostteens@d99.
The results also pointed out our need to monitor national drug trends, including potential changes in perceptions and norms regarding marijuana use. We will continue to educate students and families on the concerns related to marijuana use. In addition, we will be doing more to inform families and students on the challenges of storing and dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
The conversation about making positive choices is an ongoing one, and our goal continues to be to reduce overall and help our students develop into healthy young adults. If you have questions or suggestions about our programs or our approach to encouraging positive lifestyle choices, please contact Keith Bullock, Student Assistance Program Coordinator at 630-795-8488.