New Program Teaches Students Life Skills

By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc. 
In a child’s transition to middle and high school, there are challenges and pitfalls along the way, but until recently, there was little organized instruction for him or her on how to deal with these challenges, and it was hard to find all the information needed in one place.
As students become older, they are expected to learn and begin using critical life skills they will need later in life.  They are expected to begin setting goals for themselves, and have workable plans for achieving them.  They need to know how to set boundaries for themselves and for other people, and learn “refusal strategies” for unhealthy choices.  Peer pressure is a powerful thing and many teenagers have a hard time saying no to harmful or unhealthy choices.
But where do they go to learn these critical life skills?
Project SOS (Strengthening Our Students, Empowering Parents) is a program that emphasizes these three critical life skills ,students and their parents will need to stay on course, as they transition to middle and high school.
Pam Mullarkey, a former school board member and educator, addressed the school board about bringing the program to Madison.  She had just come from meetings with several surrounding districts, who were all on board with the program.  The program was free, but it could accommodate only 15,000 students.
The course, which could be a DVD series for counties that had already set their curriculum for the year, or a semester-length curriculum that could be fitted in a P.E. class, H.O.P.E. class or an activity period manual for instructors and workbooks for students.  In addition to teaching the three critical life skills, there were also five supplemental teachings that included  1) Media Influence,  2) Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships,  3) The Effects of Sex – which will be for high school only,  4) Substance Abuse,  5) Self-Harm, Bullying and Suicide.
The segment on Media Influence includes the social media, Mullarkey told the board.  “We talk about the good, the bad and the ugly,” she said, all the ways in which using the social media could be both good and harmful.
The board voted to include the program in the 2014-2015 school year.
For more information about the SOS program, contact Marshae Best at or visit the website
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Lynette Norris

Written by Lynette Norris