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Footprints for Life

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Description of Program
Research has clearly demonstrated that substance abuse prevention needs to begin at a very young age and continue to be reinforced throughout childhood and adolescence. However, most prevention programs are not designed to reach students until they enter middle and high school.

Drawing from the latest research, Footprints for LifeTM starts earlier and teaches children the first steps of prevention and provides them with a healthy path to follow as they grow. Footprints reaches children while their health-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are at a formative stage; provides a resource for teachers to help identify potential problems; and opens the door for parents to have important discussions with their children at home. Footprints builds the internal assets and teaches the important life skills students in grades two and three need to grow up healthy and drug-free. Through the use of puppets and stories that feature "real life" situations experienced by a children's soccer team, the program offers many opportunities for students to practice the new skills they have learned in a fun and non-threatening way.

The goal of Footprints is to help young children build a strong foundation of life skills rooted in key social competencies. The social competencies that Footprints addresses are planning and decision-making practice, interpersonal skills, cultural competence, peer pressure, and peaceful conflict resolution - assets identified as promoting positive attitudes and behaviors. Footprints is an evidence based six-week program taught during a regular classroom period for approximately 40 minutes each week. Weekly homework assignments and educational sheets not only reinforce the lessons between classes, but also involve parents in their child's learning experience.

The findings identify numerous positive aspects of the Footprints for Life program. Teachers universally reported very high levels of satisfaction with the program. They indicated that Footprints was successful in engaging children with the program and presented age-and grade-appropriate information on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Teachers whose classes participated in the Footprints program also indicated that they witnessed students using the skills taught by the Footprints curriculum. Teachers also reported using lessons from the Footprints curriculum to reinforce concepts in the classroom. After participating in the Footprints program, teachers reported that their students were more likely to:

  1. Consider consequences before making decisions;
  2. Express needs and feelings appropriately;
  3. Resolve conflicts with peers in a peaceful manner;
  4. Suggest alternate ideas when faced with negative peer pressure; and
  5. Appreciate what it is like to be "different" or left out. All of these improvements reported by teachers were statistically significant.

Parents reported that they frequently utilized concepts from the Footprints program with their children at home. Nearly 82% of parents of children participating in the Footprints Program and who completed the survey indicated that the program influenced their child's behavior in a positive way. Specifically, parents reported that the program helped their children be more aware of consequences, resolve disagreements, be more understanding, accept differences, cope with disappointment, and understand the detrimental effects of smoking.

For additional information, please contact:
Helen Varvi, M. Ed., CPS
Deputy Director at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or call at 732-254-3344 ext. 137


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