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Scholars Participate in "Living Life Drug-Free" Workshops

East of the River Steelband http://eotrsteelband.orgnot only teaches young people the traditional Caribbean art of steelpan music, but it also provides vital life skills training, including substance abuse prevention. Recently, EOR Steelband Executive Director Linda Fisher brought a four-session workshop called “Living Life Drug-Free” to IDEA.

Funded by the DC Department of Behavioral Health, the workshop series started with a theatrical presentation by trained student actors from DC schools. “They presented skits and then answered questions in character, and then out of character, about how they treated each other and what they could or should do in different situations,” explained Fisher. “The audience took the skits seriously and asked some probing questions afterward.”

The second session featured testimonials by individuals who had dealt with substance abuse but are now in recovery. They explained the problems that substance abuse caused in their lives and answered questions from scholars. According to Fisher, “Scholars asked a lot of why questions. ‘Why did you start? Why did you use? How did you get hooked? How did it go that far?’ The panelists explained that you don’t think you’re going to get hooked, but it happens.”

During the third session, scholars learned to distinguish between myths and facts about underage drinking and drug use. “They largely perceived that the problem was worse than it actually was,” Fisher said. “They thought more kids were using than actually were.” Participants had the opportunity to role play different scenarios in which they were offered drugs or alcohol or felt pressured to use. “We gave them tips and tools and ways to say know, and how to influence their peers not to get involved in drugs and alcohol,” Fisher explained.

Fisher and IDEA Director of Student Services Melody Washington also provided resources for participants who may have experienced addiction or knew someone else who needed help.

To learn more about the workshop, contact Fisher at

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