Help Teens Choose a Healthy Life
The Play For Keeps middle school program has been especially designed to demonstrate and reinforce the value of making positive choices. The program is based on education and positive reinforcement, and includes activities to help young teens better understand the consequences of making poor choices about tobacco, alcohol or drugs and the benefits of making healthy choices for both themselves, their schools and their communities.
As an administrator, coach, teacher or adult mentor, you have a unique opportunity and responsibility to help young teens learn and practice the value of making good life choices. Your influence can make a crucial difference when teens experience curiosity or peer pressure to experiment with tobacco, alcohol or drugs. The young adolescent (from grades 5 through 8) is the most vulnerable group for experimenting with tobacco, alcohol or drugs. Although tobacco, alcohol or drug use in middle school may not impact a student’s eligibility to participate in school activities, the time is right during the middle school years for guiding students away from harmful substances and toward making healthy choices.
You also have a unique opportunity to observe first-hand the powerful dynamics of peer pressure and recognize a young teen’s need to be accepted. When developing consequences and strategies for this age-group we must keep in mind that we are teaching and not punishing. We can acknowledge that young teens make mistakes, often repeatedly, and need to learn from them. Middle school students need to be a part of something greater than themselves, with opportunities to give back to the school and their community as they learn to make healthy choices. We hold students accountable, but we also show that we believe in them by giving them information and opportunity be personally responsible for their choices and to share their knowledge with their peers.