The students, all highly recommended for Peer-2-Peer by their teachers and administrators, attended the leadership training to prepare them to be elementary school student mentors during the 2008/09 academic year.
“We’re so grateful to the community foundation for their grant to Charlevoix Peer-2-Peer,” said Kristin Fettig, Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “This is the second year we’ve been able to take students to Camp Hayo-Went-Ha. It’s been a pleasure for me to watch them develop more self-confidence and build skills for communication and problem-solving.”
Fettig is responsible for the Health Department’s substance abuse prevention programs in Charlevoix County schools, including Peer-2-Peer. She said Peer-2-Peer members go through extensive training before they are assigned an elementary school “buddy” to mentor. They also make presentations at elementary schools about the risks of tobacco, and participate in many community outreach projects.
“Research shows Peer-2-Peer is effective,” she said. “Younger students look up to upper classmen and listen to them. Evaluation studies of the program indicate tobacco, alcohol, and drug use declined over time among mentored students.” According to Fettig, the Peer-2-Peer has positive outcomes for the mentor educators too. “All the skills mentors learn in Peer-2-Peer are skills they will need to be successful in life. They set goals, contribute to society, and recognize their own abilities. It’s a great program.”
Substance abuse prevention activities coordinated by the Health Department of Northwest Michigan are supported with grant funds. Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services Agency (NMSAS) provides financial support for prevention curricula and the Peer-2-Peer mentoring program in Antrim, Charlevoix, and Emmet counties. Additional grants, such as Charlevoix County Community Foundation’s award, supplement substance abuse activities in each county.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about the Health Department’s substance abuse prevention programs, contact Erika Shankland, Family & Community Health Services Supervisor, at 231-347-5832.