Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton recently gave a $30,000, three-year grant to the Milton Public Schools to implement a nationally recognized substance use prevention curriculum in all fifth grade classrooms starting with this school year.
The grant, through the hospital’s Community Benefits Program, enables the Milton Public Schools to begin using a licensed health educator to teach the Botvin LifeSkills Training substance use prevention program to all fifth grade students in the town’s four elementary schools. School officials estimate that the program will reach 375 students in the first year alone.
The Botvin LifeSkills Training is considered a best-practice substance abuse and violence prevention program that has been used both nationally and in 39 countries around the world. It has been proven to help young students increase self-esteem, develop healthy attitudes, improve their knowledge of essential life skills and develop drug resistance skills, all necessary to promote healthy and positive personal development
Through a BID-Milton community benefits grant last year, the Botvin LifeSkills Training was taught to fifth graders at all of Milton’s elementary schools as part of a pilot program. According to Noel Vigue, Director of Health and Physical Education for the Milton Public Schools, post-program evaluations showed that 91% of students reported learning new information regarding vaping health concerns, 97% of students reported learning new skills to combat peer pressure and refuse substance use and 77% of students reported learning a new skill to cope with stress.
“Our young people crave this information. They want to make healthy choices and learn about health behaviors, but many don’t have the skills to stand up to peer pressure or cope with stress and anxiety. Both situations are contributing factors to early substance use,” explained Mr. Vigue. “Without this funding from BID-Milton, we wouldn’t have the capacity to provide this invaluable training for our students.”
Richard Fernandez, president of BID-Milton, commented: “An important part of our mission of care for the community is to ensure the health and wellness of our young people and to be sure they have accurate information to make smart choices about their futures. Vaping, drug use and mental health issues can all extract an enormous toll, and we are committed to partnering with the schools and others to effectively address these issues.”
Mary Gormley, Milton School Superintendent added: “The Milton Public Schools believes that fostering healthy and positive attitudes in our students at early ages will help to keep them safe as they grow older. Thanks to the generous grant provided by the hospital, we will be able to offer the highly regarded, evidenced-based Botvin Life Skills Training to our fifth graders across our school district for the next three years. We are very grateful for BID-Milton’s continuing support of Milton’s children.”
The donation to the Milton Public Schools was made through the hospital’s Community Benefits Program. This program provides healthcare services and resources for uninsured or underinsured patients, community health screenings and education as well as programs to meet public health needs. Last year, BID-Milton provided more than $200,000 in community benefits to the Town of Milton and its residents.