For the seventh and eighth grade students at East Bay Waldorf, I brought an anti-drug presentation that reminded them of the things in their lives to say YES to. Then, they can say NO to drugs with conviction. I had made it interactive to engage them in heart, head, and hands!
I posed to them that it will be the actions of love that will keep them safe from the harmful effects of drug abuse.I gave each of the students a paper circle with a street name of a drug written on it, and we grouped them into the common illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine. We also discussed smoking, alcohol, and steroids. I began with how the drugs are taken and how they enter the bloodstream to affect the brain and other organs of the body. I listed many of their effects, which I hoped had painted a fairly graphic image of the physical consequences such as convulsions, hallucinations, organ damage, irreversible brain injury, and death. Additionally, I touched on the legal consequences of manufacturing, distributing, possessing, and using illegal drugs.
The paper circles that each student held allowed me to do interactive statistics with them. For instance, with 35 of the students in my class, I had 7 stand to show the percentage of eighth graders who will smoke marijuana for the first time. Quite effectively, I had students stand to show how many would start smoking tobacco by high school, and who would end up dying as a result of it.
We also did an impromptu play about peer influence and peer pressure. The students really enjoyed it, as I had four with purple bean bags try to convince two friends to start playing with the cool bean bags. I commended the students who resisted, despite the pressuring and pushing of their peers!
Despite knowing about the consequences of illegal drug use, some people still cannot say no. I posed to the the students that perhaps these people do not have in their lives the things to say YES to. I had the students close their eyes and bring into their hearts the people in their lives who support and love them, and the activities they engage in that fill them with passion and strength. All the things that give us a natural high on life.
On the board, the students one by one placed the drug names in an arch around children I had drawn to show the pressure of negative influences bearing down on them. Then, I had asked each one to tell me what it was in their hearts. I wrote those on the board between the drugs and the boy and girl I had drawn. These things, hobbies, music, sports, family, all provided a supportive barrier against drug use. And if you look closely at the picture, you can see that I had written in yellow chalk the word LOVE - the actions of love that keep them safe from harm!
What are they keeping safe, I asked. Their self-identity, self-respect, self-worth, their health, their spirits.
And finally, I ended the discussion with a verse I had written for them:
My body is a sailing vessel
I am captain of its course
A voyage of wish and wonder
To the magic of distant shores.
North, South, East, and West
I am guided by sun and moon
Waves may batter at my hull
Yet I remain strong and true.
The journey moves my spirit
Love of life and Self drives me,
Joyfulness expands in my wake,
I sail on towards destiny.