MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn High School’s Peer Leaders took part in the Cross Age program this week, in which the high schoolers travel to the elementary schools and teach fourth graders about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs, as well as refusal skills to get them out of potentially dangerous or harmful situations. The Peer Leaders were able to visit the fourth graders in the Deerfield, Hartshorn, South Mountain, and Wyoming elementary schools, and shared their knowledge with the young children.

“I really like hearing what the fourth graders get to say because they actually do know a lot of things about this subject, but they still have a lot to learn, so it’s always interesting to hear their reactions,” said senior Justin Dower, one of the group’s four officers and leaders. “It’s really important to get to students as young as fourth grade and to discuss this topic because this a problem among young people all over the world.”

Upon arriving at the elementary schools, the Peer Leaders began to educate every fourth grade class, asking questions concerning the health risks of drugs, the reasons behind drug abuse, and interesting and important facts about drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

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Fiona Murphy, a senior and officer of the group, stated, “I think that talking to them at a younger age, even if it’s not about drugs, will help them become more aware, because by this point they really haven’t gotten a chance to speak about it. It has always just been that drugs have been a bad thing, but now we can teach them how to say no and refuse them.”

After the children were shown an informative video designed to simulate a potentially harmful situation, the Peer Leaders began to show a step-by-step method on how to escape the issue, by simply asking questions, identifying the problem, acknowledging the consequences, and offering an alternative.

“My favorite part is how excited the kids get when we come in. They always seem to have a lot of questions and really want to know about it because they don’t get to talk about it that often,” commented Murphy later.

Currently, the Peer Leaders are preparing to travel to the Glenwood, the last elementary school, on May 22, to share this knowledge and experience with more children.