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For the past 12 years, the Turn 2 Foundation has supported Student Assistance Programs at both Portage and Kalamazoo Public Schools. The program seeks to decrease the number of substance-abuse cases within the school population, and community at large. Funds are focused on prevention programs and interventions that promote healthy students achieving academically in the school environment and community as well.
Portage Public School's Student Assistance Program (SAP) coordinators work with local high schools, community agencies, parents, and students. The programs, projects, and activities listed below are a part of SAP's continuing effort to enhance a unified base for the school, the home, and the community.
Drug & Violence Prevention Support
Motivational Speakers and Presentations
Classroom teachers invite speakers and arrange for presentations that match curriculum goals of preventing tobacco, alcohol and other substance abuse. Speakers often use personal experiences that provide engaging lessons. Speakers also talk about research statistics regarding student use and injuries caused by illegal or improper drug abuse or violence.
Asset Building Initiative/Focus On Safety Program
High school students act as mentors and role models to elementary aged students by instilling the importance of building healthy relationships to decrease high-risk behaviors. The mentors speak on specific child environments such as the playground and school bus. The program is new to the district and has already helped with the prevention of fights and bullying, inappropriate behaviors, and has benefited students who have felt lonely, scared, or teased.
Red Ribbon Week
Red Ribbon Week is a national drug/alcohol awareness week where students are encouraged to remain drug, alcohol and tobacco free. Signs are posted, information is disseminated, and red ribbons are worn throughout the week.
Student and faculty surveys are processed to determine a perceived level of substance abuse issues, violence and other school safety issues. The schools will look to their internal stakeholders to begin the process to make the school a safer environment.
Providing Support to Families
SAP is will continue to reach out to the community to educate parents on the dangers of substance abuse, services for treatment and intervention and problem-solving.
Substance Abuse Assessments
Community agencies provide parents and students with information on tobacco, alcohol, and other drug usage through implementing the Personality Inventory Assessment. The assessment requires a urine sample for testing under an intervention and prevention driven strategy.
Specific to Kalamazoo Public Schools, the Gatekeeper Program, which is presented at the middle and high school level, focuses on suicide prevention and also includes information on when and how to access help, as well as what the warning signs are for risky behaviors. Vital Link is a drug and alcohol awareness program provided to high-school students at both Kalamazoo and Portage Public Schools. The interactive and lively program shares practical information on what drugs and alcohol do to the body, including its detrimental effects on the brain and heart. Several students have mentioned, years after graduating, that Vital Link is something they vividly remember from their high-school experience. Tom Cleveland also provides a tobacco awareness program for Loy Norrix High School students that continue to receive wonderful reviews from students and staff.
Another tremendous benefit from the funds received has been the ability to pay for students' assessments when they are found with alcohol or drugs at school. The assessment provides valuable information for the family and school staff, which allows the student to return to school. Funds are used when a family does not have insurance and does not have the ability to pay. Monies have also gone toward emergency needs such as new gym shoes, gift cards for three unfortunate families who needed immediate clothing due to house fires and scholarships, etc. One scholarship helped a Kalamazoo Central High School student with an opportunity to participate in a medical program over the summer when the student lacked necessary monies to enroll.