Student Assistance Program
The Downers Grove North Student Assistance Program supports the development of student leadership, coordinates school-based prevention activities and events, and provides education and intervention services in the area of substance use and social-emotional health. The goals of the Student Assistance Program are to help prevent alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use and to promote healthy choices that support positive student development and encourage academic success.
The Student Assistance Program sponsors a number of events and activities throughout the school year to engage and educate students about healthy lifestyles:
- Every October, we observe “Red Ribbon Week,” a national awareness campaign about alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention. Every other year, we invite professional speakers to speak to our students and help reinforce our message about making positive lifestyle choices.
- Every January, we focus on educating all students during “Drug and Alcohol Facts Week.” One tool we used this year in our buildings and around the community is our D99 Drug and Alcohol Facts poster.
- 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.
- We also provide therapeutic support and intervention for students impacted by substance use and provide community counseling and treatment referrals.
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 voluntarily administers the Illinois Youth Survey (IYS) in the spring of every even year.
The IYS is designed and processed by the Center for Prevention Research and Development at the University of Illinois and funded at no cost to schools by the State of Illinois. The IYS gathers meaningful information about a variety of health and social indicators, including substance use patterns and attitudes.
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.
Our longitudinal data indicates that:
- 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.
- Over the past several years we have seen statistical delines in alcohol and marijuana use.
- D99 student use of alcohol and other substance 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, heroin and other opioids.
The IYS results support our continued use of a “social norms” marketing campaign, which emphasizes that “most teens” in District 99 do not abuse alcohol or drugs--challenging the inaccurate assumptions that “everyone is doing it.” We continue to promote our efforts via this campaign, and to reach out to students and families through print communication, email, and social media.
Focus for the Future
Empowering Families - Studies show that when parents share their expectations about substance abuse, teens listen. We encourage parents to continue a dialogue with their teens about the risks of substance use and the values that are important to your family. For information on a variety of substance-related topics and how to start a conversation with your student, consider these prevention tips at drugfree.org
Alcohol - Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused drugs among young people. We want to prepare and protect our kids from the dangers of binge drinking now and in the future as young adults. Research shows the best way to accomplish that is to help them abstain from drinking in high school. Hosting parties at home in the name of safe teen drinking has the opposite effect as it increases the risk of college-age binge drinking.
Vaping - Across the country and in schools across our area, we’ve seen an increase in the use of teen vaping and e-cigarette products. We continue to find ways to educate our students and families on the dangers, long-term risks, and unknowns of these type of nicotine products.
Marijuana - With changing perceptions about marijuana as well as changes to the law regarding adult use, it’s never been more important to educate our students that using marijuana during adolescence comes with risks and negative consequences.