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What Is Footprints for Life?


Drug and alcohol abuse prevention education is important for kids of every age. That's why Wellspring Center for Prevention offers Footprints for Life, a program designed to help students build a strong foundation of life skills from a young age that will help them avoid alcohol and drug abuse. Here's why prevention education is so important, and what our program entails.

Why is prevention education so important?

Prevention education not only teaches children not to abuse drugs and alcohol, it also helps them develop healthy coping mechanisms against potential triggers for anxiety, stress, and depression. Additionally, prevention education guides students in adopting positive thinking strategies that will give them the confidence to say no and teaches them the potential consequences of their actions and habitual behaviors. This insight helps build self-esteem, increase confidence, and empowers kids to make better choices.

Drug and alcohol abuse prevention education provides kids with valuable information, insightful stories, examples, case studies, and advice about seeking help or assisting others.

What is Footprints for Life?

Footprints for Life is a research-based prevention education program developed by the Wellspring Center for Prevention that caters to students in grades two and three. The program teaches important life skills, such as planning and decision-making, cultural competence, peer pressure, and peaceful conflict resolution. It also presents multiple opportunities for the students to use the skills they've learned in a safe and non-threatening way.

To better illustrate the benefits of Footprints for Life, the Wellspring Center for Prevention engaged the Center for Children and Families (CCF) to analyze evaluation data collected on the program. This included responses from teachers and observed child outcomes, which proved to be positive: Teachers reported seeing their students using the skills taught in the program's lessons, noting that it facilitated an interest in learning.

How does Footprints for Life teach its students?

To teach the important lessons of drug and alcohol abuse prevention, Footprints for Life uses puppets to play out fictional stories of real-life situations often experienced by young teens. The puppets are used to portray characters on a soccer team across six predetermined lessons that detail the dangers of substance abuse and some healthy coping mechanisms to develop in response to peer pressure. Using relatable storylines and realistic characters helps children better follow the storyline and absorb the information provided.

Some of the common themes the puppet show covers include the importance of expressing emotions and "I" statements, as well as the "Solution Stoplight" problem-solving strategy, with each color on the stoplight representing an action:

  • Red: Stop. Take time to cool down.
  • Yellow: Approach the situation slowly and let each person give an "I" statement. Brainstorm as many solutions as possible.
  • Green: Go. Choose the solution on which everyone can agree.

Additionally, the program demonstrates that making a bad decision doesn't make you a bad person — you just need to plan ahead and consider the consequences before acting. It also sheds light on the damage that smoking, drugs, and alcohol can cause, as well as presents healthier coping mechanisms for when you're feeling depressed or disappointed.

Through the puppet show, students are able to better understand these common instances children face as they progress into teenagers and young adults. With this knowledge and the resources provided by the prevention education program, the children will be better equipped to react to such situations in a healthy way.

If you are interested in learning more about Footprints for Life, please visit our website.
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