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National Prevention Week Blog Series: PAL® Peer Assistance and Leadership

In honor of SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week, Workers Assistance Program asked several of its program to share their thoughts on prevention, their programs, and how substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion are improving our workplaces, schools, and communities. This is our sixth post of the week, and it comes to us from PAL® Training Manager Daina Huntington. 

 PAL® Peer Assistance and Leadership is a nationally recognized peer-helping curriculum owned and distributed by WAP. Founded in 1980 and initially implemented in only one high school, PAL® now serves over 1700 schools at the K-12 level. In 2011, we were thrilled to learn that the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) added PAL® as a model program, one of the highest distinctions that a prevention curriculum can receive.

 The PAL® curriculum focuses on giving young people the opportunity, tools, and skills to help their peers. In helping their peers, their actions can positively affect not only their peers but also themselves and their communities. Our programs engage students in various service-learning projects, such as alcohol and drug prevention presentations, cross-age mentoring, new student orientation, and community food drives. While PAL® programs are generally school-based, the curriculum may also be facilitated in community or faith-based agencies. 

At the agency level, PAL® Services provides training to teachers and sponsors who facilitate the PAL® program in their school or community. We inform educators of the latest developments in suicide prevention education, improving communication skills, violence prevention, conflict resolution, and substance abuse prevention. We provide training for PAL® students or participants and technical assistance and support for new and existing PAL® programs. These services are available throughout Texas and fourteen additional states.

Goals and objectives for the PAL® program include: developing peer helping programs, providing training, networking opportunities, and technical assistance in order to create exemplary PAL® programs. Although the PAL® curriculum covers a wide variety of prevention topics, including bullying and preventing teen pregnancy, the foundation of the program is substance abuse prevention. As such, it is very important to us that advances in the fields of mental health and substance abuse continue. In particular, we are very interested in the current strides made in brain sciences and studies of human development.  This research reveals greater knowledge concerning youth risk factors, and we are eager to use the information as a guide for future curriculum revisions.

If you are interested in learning more about PAL® and the work we do, please visit our website or call us at 512-343-9595.