| CANADA | SEPTEMBER 3, 2023 |

How an Educator Reaches Kids with the Truth About Drugs

Melanie Parisella, an educator in Yellowknife, Canada, shares how she uses the Truth About Drugs program to reach kids before it is too late.
Educator Melanie Parisella uses the Drug-Free World curriculum to reach her students before dealers do.
Educator Melanie Parisella uses the Drug-Free World curriculum to reach her students before dealers do.

Melanie Parisella is a K-12 teacher in the city of Yellowknife, Canada, and believes that there are no bad teenagers, but just bad choices. She shares how she uses the Drug-Free World drug educational materials to give students the tools they need to make better choices now and into the future.

“I don’t believe in just telling kids, ‘Don’t do drugs.’ We need to make these lessons effective, interesting and meaningful. Teenagers need to be educated, but they also need to educate themselves on the truth about each drug and the possible consequences associated with drug use. Sharing their own experience with drug addiction, personal research and discussions can help teenagers make the decision to stay away from drugs. But it also gives them tools to help peers who have taken the wrong path.”

Parisella doesn’t necessarily provide weekly lessons on the dangers of drug use, but by referring to drug-related news in the community, Canada and around the world, she keeps the discussion going and involves her pupils in the subject.

“I usually start with a set of lessons on alcohol and move forward with cannabis. We watch the videos, and with a partner, students have to do a project on one of the drugs and share it with their peers. They read the booklet associated with the drug they selected and do their own research. We have discussions. We invite special guests when possible as well. Booklets are also available to read during the reading period and they are usually popular.

“In language arts, students learn to write informative text, and they have to write on the drugs of their choice for the midterm exam. Many of their texts have been published in our French community’s newspaper.

“Students are interested in the lessons, and they admit they had no idea how dangerous some of these drugs are and how quickly a person can get addicted. One student wrote, ‘I’ve gone through a lot of trauma, so I ended up with some bad people. But when you taught us about alcohol and drugs, it helped me stay in control and have the capacity to say no despite the immense peer pressure that occurs.’

“Unfortunately, there are students who come from a home where drugs and alcohol have been part of their daily life. I always tell them that I am not there to criticize their family and loved ones, but to help them understand better the impact of drugs on their health. My goal is for them to have the knowledge and correct information to make healthier choices as they grow up.”

If you are an educator and, like Melanie Parisella, you wish to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs, order the Truth About Drugs Education Package at drugfreeworld.org.