Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jun 2004
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Beth Sneller
Bookmark: (Drug Education)


For years, adults have told kids they need to say no to drugs and

The message gets through to some. But others are undaunted by warnings
of what the substances could do to their bodies.

Too Good for Drugs takes a different tactic.

The anti-drug program encourages kids to participate in drug-free
activities and focuses on building character.

The idea, of course, is that young people will become "too good for

Educators and police officers from Naperville, St. Charles and West
Chicago participated in training sessions this week to learn about the
program, which will replace the controversial Drug Abuse Resistance
Education this fall in many schools.

Too Good for Drugs was developed by the Mendez Foundation, a Tampa,
Fla.-based organization founded by trucking company owner Charles Mendez.

Mendez created the foundation to help families and children improve
their lives. His children took over management of the group after he
died in 1967.

In 1975, Charles Mendez Jr. refocused the foundation. Rather than
helping children who already were in trouble, he wanted to concentrate
on prevention.

He enlisted a core group of staff members to create Too Good for
Drugs, and they helped spread it to more than 2,000 school districts
across the nation.

The program works, Mendez Foundation Executive Director Cindy Coney
said, because it is research based.

Too Good for Drugs bases its curriculum on the nonprofit Search
Institute's 40 Developmental Assets.

"A lot of times we study people who have the problem," Coney said.
"What Search Institute did is look at the traits of children who are

Those traits include family support, positive peer influences, quality
time spent at home and peaceful conflict resolution skills.

The more traits the children have, Search Institute says, the less
likely they are to use drugs.

Too Good for Drugs developed five components communities can use to
help children achieve those assets. They are goal-setting,
decision-making, bonding with others, identifying and managing
emotions, and communicating effectively.

The 10-week program uses those components as its focal

At least one fifth-grade teacher from nearly every Naperville school
attended the training sessions, as did police officers who will be
teaching the curriculum.

Teachers attended so they could learn more about bringing the
curriculum into other parts of the classroom.

The police officers also participated in an all-day session designed
to "teach them how to teach."

"This curriculum is only as good as the person who delivers it," Coney
said, "We want to make sure these police officers feel comfortable
with the lessons."

The program will be implemented this fall in all Naperville Unit
District 203 elementary schools and in Indian Prairie Unit District
204's Naperville schools.

St. Charles Unit District 303 is testing the curriculum in four
elementary schools - one in each of the towns it serves.

West Chicago Elementary District 33 also plans to bring Too Good for
Drugs into its schools.

The program will be funded by the individual cities and private

Drugs: Program is research based
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin