Educational Program touches on chemical dependency

Chemical dependency is an issue among youth in the United States and abroad. As part of Norfolk Collegiate's educational programming, the Middle and Upper School campuses hosted a weeklong health education program in partnership with Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) Educational Services.

FCD is a non-profit organization that provides substance abuse prevention education for schools worldwide. Prevention specialists are highly trained professionals who have achieved long-term recovery from alcohol or other drug addictions.

On Feb. 2, Collegiate kicked off our FCD Educational Program and Workshops with Mr. Glenn Hall, FCD prevention specialist. Better known to our students as Mr. G, Hall created a safe space for students to learn and talk about the effects of drug and alcohol usage. Throughout the week, he worked with eighth-grade students, as well as those in the Upper School.

Hall’s approach is truly a remarkable one, he allows his personality to shine through his testimony of being drug free for more than 22 years.

“Your job as a teenager is to get through this part of life drug free,” Hall echoed to an assembly filled with Upper School students. “You have to know what you stand for, because if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

Hall began his speech by sharing his story of using drugs at the age of 13.

“For 12 years of my life, I didn’t know that I had a problem,” said Hall. “Drug addiction is a funny thing; everyone knows you have a problem except for you.”

Statistics show those who use chemicals, drugs or alcohol, as teenagers are 5 to 7 times more likely to become addicted.

“How many of you in the room have things to do; goals which you want to accomplish,” asked Davis in a room filled with raised hands. “That is the importance of this subject,” he continued. “I used drugs because I liked the way it made me feel. There are two reasons why people use—to feel and to not feel. It took me 22 years to know I don’t need drugs in order to feel good.”

Hall shared his experience with using various chemicals, which led him to a road of recovery.

“To have yourself is the most important thing,” Hall said. “My freedom has been the most rewarding thing throughout this journey.”

Hall shared his wish of having such conversations during his youth.

“Absolutely, I wish someone would have had this conversation with me as a teenager,” he said. “But I also know it was the lack of understanding the subject, not having anyone who was effective or who had anything that was moving enough to put me in the right direction. I wish it was brought to me the way it is today.”

There are five risk factors to consider with drug prevention; Hall used the acronym F.A.C.T.S, which stands for family, age, craving, tolerance and surroundings.

“The way I look at prevention, it’s not just one program, prevention is a collaborative process of a whole bunch of things, including the school and home community along with outside influences,” said Hall. “There are a whole bunch of things that can and will give students a shot at staying away from chemicals and doing the right thing. This is just one piece, it’s an important piece, but I don’t think it will stand alone.”

The unique perspective of hosting a prevention specialist enhances the credibility of the message provided to students through role models for happy, healthy, drug-free living.

“In life you make your own choices, but it is important that we [Collegiate] give students the information to make informed choices,” said Anne Claywell, director of academic advising and counseling. “While the school has responsibility to help students develop academically, we have an equal role to assure a happy, healthy student,” she continued. “Our goal is to cultivate and educate the whole child and we focus on that by developing thoughtful decision makers.” 

Students responded in a positive way to the delivery of the message.

“Mr. G taught us how drugs can impact your whole life,” said Sarah Ellen Smith ’18. “His approach was light, he was really funny, but he taught us why this topic was important.” 

“His story is definitely one that sticks with you,” said Reid Wilkinson ’16. “From last year to this year, we all remember his story, Mr. G leaves a mark on everyone he encounters and gives us the information we need, in a creative and energetic way, to make good choices.”

For more information about the FCD, visit http://fcd.org/.

To learn more about the health education programs at Collegiate, contact Anne Claywell at aclaywell@norfolkcollegiate.org.  

 

 

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