The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Heath and Human Services Department and the Boys & Girls Club Lehi Branch hosted a program called MethSMART, which started in the fall of 2010 and just completed its sixth session. MethSMART is a curriculum comprising a series of interactive learning sessions for youth to help them prevent methamphetamine abuse. It is a Boys & Girls Clubs program available for three age groups: MethSMART Kids, for ages 6-9; MethSMART Youth, for ages 10-13; and MethSMART Teens, for ages 14-18.
A total of 140 children have completed the class, including the handful who participated in the class this summer at the Lehi Branch.
“We educated kids on the essential warning flags and the impact [of meth use] to our communities, which includes neighborhoods, schools and businesses,” said Debbie Manuel, one of the instructors in the program. She also provided them with some understanding about how this drug impacts their personal health, such how it damages the brain, liver, kidneys and other major organs.
They learned how the drugs are used and, more importantly, the lethality of meth use over a short or long period of time.
“We also had the chance to integrate [into the curriculum] the emotional delays or absence of the person using [meth] and how that impacts our lives on different level, especially our personal life, work and social connections with people all around us,” said Manuel.
“We wrap up the program celebrating what we learned by offering certificates, providing incentives for attendance and participation to reaffirm our ‘Educate to Elevate’ message of staying drug-free.”
Participating youth are given questions to measure their knowledge of meth before and after the presentations. “It’s nothing hard, but it will reveal how effective the efforts have been,” said Manuel. “The [Educate to Elevate] program will gather and collect information, as well as the Boys & Girls club, to see what is working and what we need to improve on. Stay tuned to see how we are doing.”
“I learned that you can get meth from everywhere, even from your friends, and it can destroy your body when you use it,” said Dominic Moore, 11.
On the last day of MethSMART there was a raffle drawing for all the participants who attended. Several gift cards, DVDs and three DVD players were the prizes.
Ten-year-old Reina Mora was one of the three children who won the DVD players. “I learned not to ever touch meth and what it destroys in your body when you take it, like changes your hair and how you look and [how it] messes up your insides.”