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Waterman: Students tackle bullying, drug abuse issues

Published: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 11:35 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 11:40 a.m. CDT
Julie Waterman is a life skills educator for Downers Grove Township.

The Downers Grove Township is thrilled to be in its 25th year of offering the Life Skills program to local schools. During the 2013-14 school year, our program will be at 22 schools located within the Township and reaching approximately 3,400 students. Jason Shiliga and I teach the program, which includes a variety of lessons developed following the Social Emotional Learning standards.

Our lessons on anti-bullying are taught to fourth- to sixth-graders and focus on empathy. We provide activities throughout the lesson in which we have students put themselves in the shoes of a bullying victim. We have updated our lessons to include role-playing scenarios and video clips which outline bullying behavior. These activities allow our students to understand the dangers of bullying, as well as how they can become an ally. More specific to our sixth-grade students, our lessons address cyberbullying. We discuss ways in which we can protect ourselves from becoming a victim of bullying when using technology or social media web tools such as email, texting, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The main concept for our seventh- and eighth-graders is alcohol and drug prevention, which we also provide to several of our sixth-grade classes. We ask students to think about all of the wonderful things they have in their lives (family and friends, possessions, and activities) and how making poor choices involving drugs and alcohol will damage those things.

As our eighth-graders begin to think about their transition into high school, our lessons include managing stress and setting goals. We discuss things that give us stress and provide the students with different ways to manage stress in a positive way. The eighth-graders will also reflect on their future and determine what their short-term and long-term goals will be. We provide students with activities to help them determine the path that will help them accomplish their goals.

If your school is interested in finding out more about our programs, please contact us at the Downers Grove Township at 630-719-6670. We look forward to a successful school year.

Julie Waterman is a life skills educator for Downers Grove Township.

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