CHOICES mission is to encourage community involvement in helping island youth make responsible decisions about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
The young people on Catalina island are not immune form the problems of underage drinking and drug use. In fact underage drug use is perceived by many island residents to be a major threat to our community's health, safety, and future.
The good news is that we can do something about it...and we are. A group of citizens has united to help Island youth make responsible choices about alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. We invite you to join us in this effort.
What is Choices?
CHOICES stands for Citizens Helping Our Island Children End Substance Abuse. We work in partnership with the Hazelden Foundation, an internationally renowned leader in alcohol and drug rehabilitation, education and recovery. Our Goals include:
· educating youth and families about the effects of alcohol and other drug use and abuse
· increasing the availability of substance abuse treatment and support group resources
· promoting sober teen activities
When Did CHOICES Get Started?
CHOICES began when concerned citizens recognized a high prevalence of alcohol and drug use among our youth. A community needs assessment in March 2002 involved interviews with students, parents, and community leaders. This study helped to identify concerns about tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use, including:
· the prevalence and accessibility of alcohol and other drugs
· the effects of use and abuse seen in the community
· youth and adult attitudes towards use
· supportive resources in the community
Peer Mediation Team: Available to students. Offered through Avalon Schools. Contact Becky Davidson
Avalon Schools Mediation Program started in 2002 wherein trained student mediators work with their peers to diffuse minor disputes before they become major problems leading perhaps to violence, injury, and disciplinary consequences.
Training is ongoing with 1-2x a month meetings (during lunch period). Many of the students attended and became Youth Leaders for the National Council for Community and Justice Building Bridges Youth Camp and/or attended a workshop sponsored by the Hazelden Foundation. This year our training will include a Fall Retreat at Howlands Landing in November. Currently, mediations take place on an as needed basis. The students serve as mediators on a rotating schedule. Our mediators have the unique opportunity of serving elementary, middle school, and high school students. Formal mediation training begins with examination of the kinds of conflicts, their causes, and the various ways conflicts are handled. A videocassette and workbook titled, “Mediation – Getting to WIN WIN” from the Peace Education Foundation in Miami, Florida is shown/used in conjunction with the Hazelden curriculum, Peer Mediation Skills. Students are then given a list of conflict scenarios so that they can analyze the method they most commonly use to solve their conflicts and to then practice other methods (confrontation/competition, avoidance, opinion adjustment, negotiation and collaboration).
Next, we look at the components of good communication skills (open-ended questions, “I” statements, active listening, eye contact, body language, verbal feedback, paraphrasing, summarizing), and providing students with role plays to practice these skills. We review qualities of a good mediator. Next, we break down the mediation process into 5 steps: Introduction, listening, problem solving, choosing a solution, and agreement implementation plans.
We feel our student mediation program sends an important message to our students. “In our school we can talk over our differences. We don’t have to fight to get justice. Mediation allows us to attack the problem and not the person.”
Life Issues: Life Issues is a group of teens that meet together at Avalon School on a regular basis during lunch period to talk about the tough issues they face in their daily lives. This group provides an atmosphere of acceptance and confidentiality, and group members practice sharing their thoughts and feelings about various topics/issues. Group members are encouraged to take a serious look at who they want to be instead of who they are pressured to be. Life Issues is open to all Avalon Middle School and High School Students. Contact Becky Davidson.