Project Alert is a comprehensive 18-hour program that teaches our sixth grade children effective resistance skills to drugs, tobacco or alcohol. The program is taught by Dr. Perez, a clinical child psychologist who has been an educator at Del Mar Pines School for over 25 years.
Project Alert program is one of the most effective substance abuse prevention programs in the United States. Using many interactive teaching strategies, the students use extensive literature on how each substance negatively impacts the body’s major organs, neurochemistry, and neurophysiology.
The curriculum is designed to respond to the developmental changes that occur prior to and during middle-school years. They study how different drugs affect the brain and its specific functions. All students are exposed to brain images that include PET scans, and brain SPRCT studies of substance abusing individuals compared to healthy brains.
The students also learn about the impact of substance abuse on the individual’s cognitive, emotional, and psychological functioning. The central focus throughout the curriculum is peer and environmental pressures, as well as developing effective skills to combat them. These include social pressures to “fit in,” emulate behavior they view as mature and the need to become more independent.
An emphasis is placed on helping students to identify internal and external pressures and to develop resistance techniques through role-playing, modeling, reinforcement, active student participation and validation. Each student is taught to resist peer pressure and make positive choices. In meeting these goals, their ability to adopt new behavior and change difficult behavior is heightened.