The Need for Alcohol & Drug Classes
Alcohol and drug use is common among many teenagers. In 2005, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that, among American youth, 16% of 8th graders and over 50% of 12th graders had used marijuana. Also, 44% of 8th graders and 77% of 12th graders had used alcohol. When teens are arrested for underage alcohol use, or possession of illegal drugs, a part of their sentence is often time in classes to learn more about the effects of alcohol and drugs. These classes both educate and encourage responsible behavior.
Are these findings about alcohol and drug use true for Amish youth? No one is sure. However, we do know that Amish do not enter the world of alcohol and drugs in the same way as "English" (the Amish term for all non-Amish) youth. For that reason, educational programs need to focus on the problem in a different way than is true for English teens.
What The Classes Offer
The teenage years can be a challenging time. Particularly for Amish youth, the stress of moving into adulthood includes decisions about the future as a member of the Amish church, and a life separate in Christ. Those teaching them need to remain aware of the struggle that many Amish youth face as they explore the world. Those teaching them also need to remain aware that Amish youth will be using their freedom to make an ultimate decision about their faith.
With this in mind, these classes offer an opportunity to learn about the effects of alcohol and other drugs commonly used by Amish youth and young adults. They also teach ways to make responsible decisions about alcohol and drug use. The classes do this in the context of Amish life. They serve only Amish youth and young adults (under age 21). Parents are encouraged to attend for a portion of the sessions.
The Use of Amish Educators
The classes are taught by "English" counselors alongside Amish educators. These Amish educators feel called to the program, and respect the privacy of those attending. They are trained in working with these classes. Solutions Counseling, LLC provides counseling services for the program. Visit them on the web at www.solutionscounseling.biz.
Amish Youth Vision Project Goal
To work with the needs of Amish adolescents as they observe the world.
Goals of the Classes
- Increase responsible decision-making about alcohol and drug abstinence and use
- Raise awareness about the effects of alcohol and drug use on self, family, and community
- Better respond to the challenges of passing through the world
And the Future
We hope these Alcohol and Drug classes will become and remain a program that serves the needs of the Amish community. For this reason, we plan to meet with, and discuss our services with leaders, parents, and youth from the community on a regular basis. At any time, we welcome comments, questions, or concerns.
Start-up costs for an Alcohol and Drug Education program for Amish youth referred through Probation Departments come from a Dekko Foundation grant. The Dekko Foundation is a private, family foundation started in 1981 by the late Chester E. (Chet) Dekko. Mr. Dekko was an entrepreneur, a business and community leader, and a dedicated family man. He believed in education as the key to an independent, meaningful, successful life. Mr. Dekko's goal for his foundation was to provide support for the development of personal independence and thus, economic freedom for people in the communities where he did business.