Jeffco Schools teaching beyond the book

April 30, 2010
Jefferson County teachers listen to a presentation about LifeSkills Training last week in at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden. The district has trained more than 170 teachers in the LifeSkills program.
Provided by: Kristin Morin |
Article Contributed on: 4/28/2010 11:44:14 PM

Effective living is a growing part of the Jeffco Schools curriculum, and this year, thousands of Jeffco Public Schools students will learn about values, choices and their impact.

The LifeSkills Training curriculum was introduced in the spring of 2008, and included 285 students. In the 2008-09 school year, the program grew to 1,075 students, and a goal was set for 1,500 students for 2009-10, according to Mary Blair, district LikeSkills coordinator.

Instead, 5,000 students are now involved in the LST curriculum, far exceeding that goal.

Blair noted the increase reflects the dynamic teachers and counselors spreading the word about the program and encouraging other teachers to train in and teach the curriculum in their classes.

The program centers on three core areas incorporated into the academic curriculum, Blair said.

“Making good choices, minimizing risky behaviors and managing their social choices in a positive way,” she said.

Jeffco Schools was awarded a grant through Jefferson County Human Services to train additional staff, staff support, purchase curriculum and hire a coordinator.

The schools work with a subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Department to support the curriculum with the goal of reducing future criminal behavior, risky behavior and increasing graduation rates.

Blair, who retired last year from teaching family and consumer studies, was asked to head the program after a county grant came through.

She said the Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education is instrumental in training trainers and social workers who Jeffco staff in teaching the LST programs and she hopes for future grants to continue the training.

There is also a parent component to the curriculum, Blair said, with social workers from Jefferson County Mental Health teaching the skills to parents.

Sharon Murray, RMC president and CEO, said the training could help schools meet the new Colorado standards for health education.

“It takes it from just health information to giving students the critical thinking skills to practice good health-enhancing behavior,” she said.

For students, it trains having to stop and think about choices that can affect their lives before making them: reacting to peer pressure to take alcohol and drugs, for instance.


Effective Communication Skills for High Schoolers

April 28, 2010


-as taken from the Botvin LifeSkills Training High School program

Effective communication is the respectful exchange of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs between a speaker and a listener in such a way that the listener interprets the message the same way the speaker intended it.


Speaker and Listener 

  • Maintain Eye Contact.
  • Facial Expressions, such as smiling and nodding should show interest. 
  • Your body language and gestures should be confident but inviting.   
  • Find a physical distance that has you near enough to talk to each other easily but not so close that you feel crowded.



  • Your words should match your body language.  
  • Ask both specific and open-ended questions.    
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation.      
  • Keep your tone of voice clear and respectful.                               


  • Use Active and passive listening.                                                                                                                                  
  • Let the other person finish sentences; don’t interrupt.
  • Summarize what you have heard and check for understanding.
  • Keep your tone of voice clear and respectful.                                                                                                

Top 5 Tips for Parents from the Botvin LifeSkills Training Program

April 27, 2010

1. Make a point of talking with your children every day. Find time for both family and one-on-one talks. Plan your day so conversations can happen regularly, such as while eating family meals together.  When your child wants to discuss something, make sure you listen carefully.  If you can, stop whatever else you are doing so your child knows you are really listening.


2. Keep in mind that your habits influence your child. Research tell us that as they grow up, children tend to develop the same smoking, drinking, or drug use habits as their parents.

3. Have rules that spell out your expectations for your child. As much as possible, use “Do’s” rather than “Don’ts.”

4. Tell kids about the bad things that can happen now. Always let kids know that there are immediate and short-term risks to using substances.  Adolescents are more likely to be concerned with things that can affect their lives now, rather than the distnat future (for example, say that smoking can affect one’s performance on a sports team, rather than that smoking may eventually cause cancer).

5. Be a good listener. Ask questions to encourage your child to talk. Ask their opinion about things. Show that you are willing to listen. You do not have to agree with everything your kids say, but listen irst and give your opinion second. This way your kids will know they can talk with you about anything, including drugs and other problems.

Funding Opportunity: Grant Announcement

April 26, 2010

*Grant: Youth substance use and violence – To build and sustain capacity to prevent youth substance use and violence and support collaboration between state educational agencies and other state agencies to prevent these problems.

Funder: U.S. Department of Education.

Eligibility: State educational agencies.

Deadline: June 7.

Amount: $8 million for 45 awards ranging from $125,000 to $250,000 each.


Preparing grant applications can be a bit challenging.  Botvin LifeSkills Training offers several grant application tools to help you in applying for local, state, and federal funding:

Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Enhancement Act

April 23, 2010

On April 15th, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted  to advance the Drug-Free Communities Enhancement Act, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The legislation builds on the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program, which currently funds more than 700 community anti-drug coalitions nationwide and has been tremendously successful in reducing youth substance use and abuse to levels lower than national averages, by authorizing supplemental funds for current and former DFC grantees to enable them to more effectively address major emerging drug trends and local drug crises.

The DFC Enhancement Act authorizes current and former DFC grantees to apply for grants of up to $75,000 per year for up to four years to implement comprehensive, community-wide strategies to address emerging drug trends or local drug crises. Applicants can qualify for DFC Enhancement Act grants if their local data shows evidence of a sudden increase in drug use and abuse rates for a particular substance, or if rates of use and abuse for a specific drug are significantly higher than the national average for a sustained period of time. Grant applicants must submit a comprehensive community plan for addressing the emerging drug trend or local drug crisis. The Drug Free Communities Enhancement Act authorizes funding from 2011 through 2015.

Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin Presents LifeSkills Training Program at Blueprints Conference for Violence Prevention

April 20, 2010

WHITE PLAINS, NY – Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, internationally known expert in the field of prevention and developer of the highly acclaimed LifeSkills Training (LST) substance abuse and violence prevention program, was an invited speaker at the 2010 Blueprints Conference on April 8, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Botvin described the LST program, summarized the 25 years of research supporting its effectiveness, and discussed the merits of an evidence-based approach for preventing alcohol, tobacco, illicit drug abuse, and violence. 

The theme of this international conference was to motivate the violence and drug prevention field to adopt evidence-based programs and provide support, guidance, and tools to help practitioners implement these programs successfully in their own communities. There were more than 700 people in attendance, including professionals working in the area of juvenile justice, violence and drug abuse prevention for youth. 

“In order to improve the quality of health in America and reduce future health care costs, it is vitally important that policy-makers and decision-makers promote the use of the most effective and scientifically proven prevention programs and policies,” said Dr. Botvin.  “The Blueprints initiative is having a tremendous impact on the field because it gives decision-makers the tools necessary to identify the most effective programs.”

LifeSkills Training is one of 11 model prevention programs identified by Blueprints for Violence Prevention, the national violence prevention initiative. Established in 1996 by Professor Del Elliott from the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Blueprints for Violence Prevention program monitors the effectiveness of prevention, early intervention, and treatment programs in reducing adolescent violent crime, aggression, delinquency, and substance abuse. In addition to preventing violence and delinquency, studies consistently show that the LST program dramatically reduces the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, meth, and other illicit drugs. The LST program works with a diverse range of adolescents; produces results that are long-lasting; and is effective when taught by teachers, peer leaders, or health professionals.

Dr. Botvin also introduced several new programs based on the LST approach.  Together, they offer several powerful ways to reach youth of different ages and in different settings. These include LST programs for students in upper elementary school and high school, a program for students attending vocational education schools, several self-paced CD-ROM programs, a program to ease the transition from high school to work or college, and a workplace program. Also, included in this suite of program is a program designed to help parents raise healthy, successful, and drug-free kids.

About Botvin LifeSkills Training

Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) is a highly effective evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program with more than 25 years of peer-reviewed research behind it. Studies testing its effectiveness have found that LST can reduce the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. The program was developed by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College and director of Cornell’s Institute for Prevention Research. Dr. Botvin is also founder and senior scientist at National Health Promotion Associates which promotes the use of evidence-based prevention programs. LST has been used with youth in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and in 32 countries around the world. LST is included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and has been cited for excellence by numerous organizations including the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (part of the U.S. Department of Justice). Recently LST was selected as a “top tier” prevention program by the Coalition for Evidence-based Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization in Washington, DC.

Visit for more information.

June 26th is International Day Against Drug Abuse

April 16, 2010

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, this day serves as a reminder of the goals agreed to by member states of creating an international society free of drug abuse. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime selects themes for the International Day and launches campaigns to raise awareness about the global drug problem. This year’s theme is “Do drugs control your life? Your life. Your Community. No place for drugs.”

For more information, visit:

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