In partnership with the center for student services department at Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, Mrs. Chanie Delman, clinical director at Madraigos, and Mrs. Mindi Werblowsky, director of adolescent programming at Madraigos, led important workshops for 11th- and 12th-grade students on September 19. Among the critical topics addressed was peer pressure specifically related to substance abuse. Utilizing PowerPoint, video, and focused discussion, the topic was presented in an informative and interactive way. The goal of the workshop was to stimulate thought and conversation about the serious challenges and potential risks surrounding substance use in high school and beyond.
Rabbi Gedaliah Oppen, Judaic-studies principal of HAFTR High School, introduced the program and stressed the critical importance of the workshop. He reminded students that their school is an ally in helping them overcome these challenges. General-studies principal Ms. Naomi Lippman explained that the responsibility of high schools has expanded to include educational programs focusing on mental health, social-emotional wellbeing, and safe choices. The program helped introduce Mr. Yavniel Field, Madraigos social-work intern, who is working at HAFTR in the center for student services department. Mr. Field will be serving as a bridge between the two organizations to facilitate further collaboration.
Mrs. Delman and Mrs. Werblowsky started by framing the issues in several different ways from the physical and emotional to the psychological and social. A major part of the presentation centered on the key social factor of peer pressure and how it can affect decision-making. Students were asked to think about how they might respond to situations of peer pressure in the context of alcohol or drugs. They also asked students to think about how popular culture might affect their thinking. Mrs. Delman and Mrs. Werblowsky gave examples of post-high-school scenarios where students might be exposed to intense peer pressure, such as in a seminary or yeshiva environment in Israel or at college. Students brought up challenges of how to safely navigate house parties and trips with friends. The complex situation when one sees a friend making poor choices was discussed as well. The presenters and students discussed possible suggestions for these scenarios such as seeking out a trusted adult, be it a parent, teacher, or counselor.
With regard to physical factors, the workshop addressed detailed information about actual substances, their prevalence, and effects on physical health. Facts and figures from relevant studies were presented to the teens in a clear and scientific fashion. The presentation covered a wide array of substances from alcohol and marijuana to opioid medications and Adderall, as well as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Students gained a better understanding of physical dangers including various biochemical effects, organ malfunction, and brain-cell deterioration. The possibility of overdose and poisoning were also emphasized for students to grasp and internalize. Throughout the presentations, Mrs. Delman and Mrs. Werblowsky confronted common misconceptions about substance use and clarified them for better understanding.
In conclusion, Mrs. Werblowsky and Mrs. Delman spoke about the myriad of support programs run by Madraigos and encouraged students to approach them personally on a confidential basis with any questions or concerns. Students were invited to participate in any of these programs, especially the biweekly Madraigos GNO (Guys/Girls Night Out) programs, separate for teen and young-adult boys and girls.
Madraigos looks forward to continuing its valuable work with HAFTR High School and other schools in the community. To learn more about Madraigos’s programs and services, please call 516-371-3250. Please feel free to contact Mrs. Delman directly at ext. 107 or Mrs. Werblowsky at ext. 113 for more information.
Madraigos, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, offers a wide array of innovative services and programs geared towards helping teens and young adults overcome life’s everyday challenges one step at a time. Their goal is to provide all members with the necessary tools and skills to empower them to live a healthy lifestyle and become the leaders of tomorrow.