Drug awareness is an important part of preventing children from taking drugs of any kind, whether they are legal or illegal. While some medications are necessary, children need to know about drug abuse related to legal substances, illegal drug use and how to say no in peer situations. Teachers and parents can use games and activities to help prevent drug use and raise awareness of drugs.
Sketchpad Brain Game
The Sketchpad Brain Game is a game through the website Above the Influence in which the player tries to collect the positive influences, like trophies, sports memorabilia and awards, while avoiding the drugs and alcohol. When the brain hits drugs or alcohol, the screen becomes blurry and shows how the drugs can affect the mind. The game helps children realise that drugs are a negative in their lives.
Drug Awareness Bingo
Teachers can use Drug Awareness Bingo to help children understand drugs. The cards have pictures, such as drugs, an image depicting trustworthiness, or a "high" individual (a person with his head rising off his shoulders), as well as labels telling what the picture is. The children mark in spots as the teacher calls them out and the first to get all the spaces across, down or diagonally gets a drug awareness prize, such as a T-shirt with an awareness message.
Drugs are not only a concern for older children, but also for young children just starting their school years. Children might accidentally give medications or drugs to each other, drink poisonous items or otherwise take drugs while playing "make believe." Teachers can take advantage of this tendency to mix up reality and make believe by using a "buggy ride" activity. The children are paired up and given a wagon or a basket with a rope. One child gets in the basket or wagon while the other takes the role of the "horse." The child in the wagon or basket says "giddy up" and the child playing the role of a horse drags them to a predetermined location. At that point, the children switch roles. When all of the children are gathered around, the teacher asks whether they were really given a ride by a horse or not. All of the children should realise that no, the other child was not a horse. Use this to tell children that in make believe, such as playing doctor and patient, the child playing a doctor should never give medicine like a real doctor or the child playing the patient should never take a medicine from the doctor. Talk about drugs afterward to show why they should not take anything from a pretend doctor and should only take medicine given by a parent or their real doctor.
Role playing is a powerful tool to help children learn about drugs. In this game, one child plays the individual in a negative situation while one or more children try putting pressure on the first child to take a drug. The teacher determines roles and then the students put together their answers and responses according to the directions of the teacher. After the students performing the role play finish, the teacher opens the room for a discussion, asking questions like "what did she do wrong?" or "how could she have improved?" Repeat with another group or pair of students until all of the students play a role.