The goal of Across Ages is to demonstrate the effectiveness of a comprehensive intergenerational mentoring approach to drug prevention for high risk-middle school students.
The core of the program is the involvement of older adults as mentors to students. Older mentors help children develop the awareness, self-confidence, and skills they need to resist drugs and overcome overwhelming obstacles. In addition to mentoring, the program engages students in community service activities that benefit frail elders, provides a classroom-based life skills curriculum, and offers workshops to parents. The program targets 6th grade students attending public middle schools in Philadelphia's most stressed neighborhoods, serving 562 children during the first 3 project years (1991-1994). The program was evaluated using experimental and control group classes selected randomly from 6th grade teachers who were willing to participate. Program evaluation showed the multifaceted intervention approach produced positive changes in student knowledge, attitudes, and behavior concerning drug abuse and related life skills and that students with involved mentors fared even better. Program interventions, especially those for mentored students, appeared to encourage appropriate reactions to situations in which students were offered drugs or alcohol by peers. Students with mentors reported more positive attitudes toward school, their future, older people, and participation in community service. Further, mentoring seemed to be effective in increasing student sense of self-worth, promoting feelings of well-being, and reducing feelings of sadness and loneliness. 14 references, 1 note, and 5 tables
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