After a long layoff, it was great to see the kids at Juan Cabrillo again. Its been such a rough school year in Malibu, but I was happy to see everyone getting back into the normal routine of school. Here is what we talked about:
4th Grade – Under Whose Influence
After spending a little time talking about drugs in general, I read the class a short “choose your own adventure” novel called Under Whose Influence. The book tells the story of a middle-school girl that goes to a classmate’s house to study and is unexpectedly given the choice to drink alcohol. Depending on the choices made by the class (majority rules), the main character might be peer pressured, she might choose to stay in the house or leave, drink or not drink, or whether to keep the incident a secret or tell her mom. The story changes depending on the choice and the consequences of each choice are described for the students to hear. After we finished the story, I spent the end of the class going through the branches that they didn’t choose.
Kids see adults in their lives drinking occasionally (and for some, more than occasionally). Most adults that choose to drink manage to do so in a responsible manner without creating any adverse consequences, but when minors chooses to drink it can become very dangerous very quickly. Its important that the kids understand that any time a person crosses the line of abusing alcohol, there could be potentially life changing consequences. Whenever someone choose to drink, its their responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen.
5th Grade – The Team Game
In the 5th grade, we spent our time talking about drugs in general and tobacco specifically.
I started by explaining to the kids not think of drugs as good or bad. Drugs are just inanimate chemicals that affect our minds and bodies in a variety of ways. The good or bad comes from why a person chooses to use a drug. The laws and attitudes surrounding drugs are constantly changing, but every time a person uses a drug for any reason there is a risk involved. Especially for kids that are still growing and developing, the only time they should be using a drug is with the approval of their parents and/or under the care of a doctor. Any drug use outside of that is likely something they should not be doing.
After that introduction, I turned the discussion towards tobacco. Five students from each class performed a skit called “The Team Game” which stated numerous facts about the hazards of smoking and chewing tobacco. Highlights included:
- identifying chewing tobacco (spit and dip), cigarettes and cigars
- the long term and short term effects of chewing tobacco (tooth and gum problems, mouth cancer, addiction, etc)
- the long term and short term effects of smoking (emphysema, lung cancer, stained teeth and fingernails, smoke stench, addiction, etc).
- legal age and increased risk of smoking or chewing as a youth
I finished the lecture with a few visual aids of the effects of smoking on lungs. First, there is the bottle of tar that shows the amount of gunk that will pass through an every day smoker’s lungs over the course of a year.Then I have a board with plaster models of lungs before and after smoking depicting lung cancer and emphysema. I also have a display of preserved lung tissue showing a healthy lung along side an emphysematous lung of a 20 year smoker.
Finally, we talked about the differences between vaping and smoking. I emphasized to the kids that neither is a healthy activity for a kid to partake in. If you uncle Leo has been a smoker for 30 years, vaping is a better alternate for him, but if you’re 12 both are hazardous. Needless to say, the kids were very clear by the end of class that tobacco products are legal to use for an adult, but are not a healthy choice in any way shape or form.