Hawaii National Guard “Stay on Track” program helps youth stay drug-free

Posted on Nov 28, 2014 in Media Gallery, Slider



OAHU, Hawaii – Thousands of miles from the sports car racing hotbed of the southern United States, sixth grade students at Aiea Elementary School in Hawaii, are learning the rudiments of effective racing. However, rather than using these skills to drive a car, the lessons are intended to help youth drive their lives and help them stay on the right track.

Hawaii National Guard Counterdrug personnel taught the skills through the Stay on Track Program, which is designed to give students tools to help them choose a drug-free life.

The program not only teaches life skills, it also meets the National Educational Standards in health, life science and language arts. Armed with a curriculum that promotes teamwork through interactive games, discussions, role-play, writing and reading exercises, and research projects, the Guard members offer instruction that appeals to a variety of learning styles and educational levels.

“I think it [SOT] is a really good program. It touches on all of our benchmarks, especially health and life sciences,” said Lori Yamada, Aiea Elementary sixth grade teacher. “Helping the students with decision making, and being aware is important for kids at this age.”
And that’s what the program is about.
“That is why we are here in Aiea,” said Army Sgt. Bernie “Buma” Bumanglag, a substance abuse counselor with the Hawaii Guard Counterdrug team. “We hope to reach this generation to stem the tide of the drug culture, These kids can effect change in their families and communities through the knowledge they gain in the course.”

Bumanglag, along with Tech. Sgt. Priscilla Bastatas, usually teach two groups of sixth graders about alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, and prescription drug use and abuse each week, which has had positive effects.

“Having the Guard members come in the class to teach has a good effect on the students. It gives them career possibilities and choices,” said Yamada. “The course is relatable, and Sgt. Buma teaches it really well. It is important, especially for these kids. I do not know if they have any plans for the future, but the program helps them organize their thoughts and set their sights on the future.”

In order to measure the success of the program, students are surveyed at the beginning and again at the conclusion of the 12-lesson course.
“The surveys play an important role in the program,” said Bastatas. “They demonstrate that the students have grown in their knowledge and improved their attitude toward drug use.”

And the program has had other lasting benefits as well.