Wheatland Center School receives AODA Prevention and Intervention grant from WI DPI to continue running FAST


WHEATLAND — A $14,800 state grant will help Wheatland Center School continue to offer a program to help families form social networks and spend quality time together — key components in preventing alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse.

Funding for the AODA prevention and intervention grants, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, totals more than $940,000 statewide and comes from the penalty surcharge from traffic fines and forfeitures.

Wheatland Center School administrator Marty McGinley said the grant will support several of the district’s “Prevention by Intervention” project goals, including the continuation of the Families and Schools Together (FAST) program.

School psychologist Emily Lynd said 12 families are recruited to participate in the FAST program each year.

“The purpose is to empower parents, help them build a social network with other parents and help strengthen the family unit,” Lynd said, adding that seven of the 12 families attended at least five of the sessions.

All participating families have at least one child in 4K through third grade and siblings are encouraged to participate. They get together once a week for eight weeks on a Thursday night.

Lynd said each week starts with family activities, followed by a family meal. Then, parents attend a group session at which they lead the discussion and kids go to play and engage with their peers. The evening ends with 15 minutes of child-led play, which is encouraged to be repeated at home several times per week.

“During the fifth week we bring in a presenter based on what the parent’s want,” Lynd said.

Once the eight-week program is complete, the district holds FAST Works outings. All families who have participated since the program’s onset are invited. Trips include bowling and a night at Action Territory, for example.

McGinley said the grant will also support the district’s implementation of a Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment program. This involves conducting universal screening for risky behaviors that helps to identify students in need of intervention.

The district’s Prevention by Intervention goals also include updating the school’s policies and procedures related to AODA violations to include education and intervention, as well as restorative practices, McGinley said.

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