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Sevier County schools to launch substance and violence prevention program

School officials said the internationally-used program will help kids make healthy decisions.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — The Sevier County School System is taking aim at addiction, negative decision-making and violence with a new life skills program.

On Wednesday, the system announced the launch of Botvin Life- Skills Program at all Sevier County schools. The Sevier County Board of Education approved the program back in May. 

Botvin Life-Skills is a nationally- and internationally-used substance abuse and violence prevention program. Several scientific studies indicate that the program can decrease teenagers' tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use by 80 percent.

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Karen Pershing with Metro Drug Coalition said an "alarming" amount of middle school and high school students are vaping.

Sevier County school officials said students will learn how to resist the pressures of substance use. They will also learn important life-skills such as decision-making, problem solving, stress and anxiety management, and productive communication. 

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Sevier County CARES Executive Director Nicole Ogle said the program will have a big impact on students' development.

“We are thrilled with the implementation of this program, prevention is key,” Ogle said. “Substance misuse has devastating effects on our students and families, and it is critical that we reach our students as early as possible to equip them with the skills to succeed."

Funding for this curriculum comes from The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The new program is a joint effort by Sevier County C.A.R.E.S. and the Sevier County Office of Alcohol and Drug Programs.

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