New Grant Helps Ensure The Safety of Students

Florida A&M University began a new curriculum for freshman Student Life Skills (SLS) courses Monday.

The curriculum is sponsored by a three-year researched-based grant presented by the Minority Serving Institution Community Based Organization (MSICBO) with emphasis on substance abuse education and the prevention of HIV and Hepatitis C.

MSICBO collaborated with FAMU and other outside organizations such as the Department of Health, DISC Village, Big Bend Care and other on-campus stakeholders.

They will work with the first-year experience program to provide prevention programs to students in the SLS Courses.

Services will be provided to one-thirds of students in year one. In year two, all of the SLS students will get the same substance abuse prevention curriculum.

Yolanda Bogan, principal investigator and evaluator of the MSICBO grant, said that one of the objectives is to create a culture where students learn alternative ways of dealing with stress and spending leisure time without using drugs.

“What we want is for our students to continue to have messages about the consequences of drug use,” Bogan said. “Drug use can lead to poor decision making subjecting students to be more vulnerable to contracting HIV and Hepatitis C.”

Bogan wants students to understand that drug use in the long run is counter-productive to their goal of education and becoming the profession that they inspire to be.

Lawrence Brown, first-year experience coordinator, said that this curriculum is the right step to start educating our students because it is hard for some students to realize how “real” these topics are.

“Any continued conversation is a plus, because most students don’t expect to contract a disease on campus,” Brown said. “[But] the reality of that is very much possible.”

There will be a host of on-campus activities and trainings for students to become certified peer educators. Students will aid in providing campus-based education programs and outreach to their peers, while deciding if the messages are linguistically relevant, age appropriate, and culturally consistent.

All of these programs will be reviewed by an advisory report of campus partners, off-campus partners and students.

Amber Golden, evaluator and assistant professor in psychology, said that the research is used to make sure the programs they implement are effective.

“Hopefully the freshmen will learn new knowledge about substance abuse risk factors and how to engage in safer practices in general,” Golden said.

The principal investigators are thrilled that FAMU was awarded this grant because they can continue to educate the youth about substance abuse and other diseases.