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B.E.A.T. PROGRAM TO TACKLE HIGH RISK BEHAVIORS

MONTREAL, JANUARY 15, 2003- The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and the School Services Department of Jewish Family Services (JFS) are launching a pilot project aimed at lessening the risk factors conducive to such problems as drug abuse, violence, sexual promiscuity, self-destructive behaviours and gambling.

Plans for the implementation of the "B.E.A.T." (Building Educational Assets Together) program were presented on Jan. 14 to the governing boards of the six schools where it will be piloted - Gardenview Elementary and LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent, Coronation Elementary in Cte des Neiges, Marymount Academy in N.D.G. and Pierre de Coubertin Elementary and John Paul I Junior High in St. Leonard. These schools were selected on the basis of the fact that the identified high schools receive a significant number of students from the feeder elementary schools.

JFS, the oldest social service agency in Quebec, is committed to enriching and improving the quality of school, work, family and community life of its clientele. It currently has a team of professionals which provides students, parents, teachers, and administrators with the tools they need to adapt to the rapid, ever-changing challenges of modern life. Such services include assessment, counselling, group programs, services for students with special needs, crisis intervention, speech and language services, occupational therapy services and parenting workshops.

JFS Director of School Services Barbara Victor and Supervisor Cory Sirota-Frankel, working in conjunction with EMSB Director of Student Services Lew Lewis and Coordinator Dora Cesta, have proposed providing on-site support to the six pilot schools through the end of the current academic year. This would include an evaluation of the "climate and culture" in each school with a view to formulating recommendations to address the resulting concerns/issues emanating from this analysis.

Ms. Victor has proposed a multifaceted approach which will encompass all members of the community, including students, teachers, parents, principals, professionals and community agencies, in an effort to identify, prioritize, develop, and implement a solution-focused response to risk. "This approach will include the enhancement of protective factors like family bonds and a supportive school environment that could so profoundly immunize students against the inherent risks of growing up in todays world," says Mr. Lewis. "It will involve each school undertaking a process of self-evaluation, leading to the completion of a needs assessment in order to develop a strategic plan to respond most effectively to its unique community needs."

Mr. Lewis says that all non-pilot elementary and high schools will be provided with a menu of services which they can access from JFS on a fee-for-service basis during the balance of the 2002-2003 academic year.

"A review of many research articles has clearly indicated that drug abuse problems, particularly with respect to the gateway drugs such as cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana have not diminished and are still of major concern in our society today," emphasizes Ms. Cesta. "In fact, the research indicates an earlier onset of drug experimentation as well as the tendency to utilize drugs as a coping mechanism rather than for social purposes."

Ms. Cesta says approaches and orientations which are working and seem to have shown promise over the years include resistance skills training, life skills approaches which teach coping techniques, programs that build school capacity and initiate innovative approaches in a collaborative manner with the entire community and mentoring and parenting programs.



Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213
E-mail: mcohen@emsb.qc.ca