Third graders from Union City colored their way into healthier life choices during an annual coloring book event hosted by The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ).
Union City Commissioner Maryury Martinetti, PDFNJ’s Executive Director Angelo Valente, and PSEG Foundation Program Manager Maria Spina were on site delivering the booklets to a classroom of third grade students at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School on Feb. 13.
PDFNJ collaborated with the PSEG Foundation to send a message to 25,000 young New Jersey students across the state regarding the importance of healthy choices through the annual distribution of the “Third Grade Life Choices Coloring and Activity Book.”
“The Third Grade Life Choices and Activity Book provides students information and encouragement to make healthy decisions,” said Valente. “Educating our youth with age-appropriate messages to prevent the misuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in communities and schools is an ongoing effort, and the earlier we start the better.”
According to the PDFNJ, the activity book contains a contract for students to sign and commit to a healthy lifestyle.
The coloring book program is supported by a grant from the PSEG Foundation and has been distributed in 353 classrooms throughout the state. PDFNJ said the goal of the coloring book is to educate young students about the importance of living a healthy life free of substance use.
Parents and educators are on board
“PSEG is committed to supporting the communities we serve — including the young people in those communities,” Spina said. “We believe strongly in the good work of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and are proud to partner with them to help communicate the importance of making smart decisions at any age.”
Recent studies suggest research-based, age-appropriate prevention materials have had a positive impact on the youth of New Jersey, according to the PDFNJ. Alcohol, tobacco, and substance use have decreased among American teenagers in grades 8, 10 and 12 in response to the preventive measures.
Parents and educators play a key role in informing the youth of the Garden State about the dangers of substance use and misuse. To highlight that role, the PDFNJ said the activity book contract will be signed by parents and school representatives.
Michael Celebrano is the principal of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Celebrano praised the book for its involvement of parents and educators in the process.
“From an educational perspective, we are always looking to enhance our curriculum with hands-on activities that promote a healthy lifestyle,” Celebrano said. “It is never too early to teach our children about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, and the contract and activity book help to involve educators and parents along with our students.”
According to the PDFNJ, the prevention efforts of family members and the educational system are as vital to the mission of the program as the students’ commitment to live drug-free.
“Parents and caregivers provide the guidance and emotional support to steer their children toward healthier life choices, while schools educate students on the positives of healthy living and the consequences of substance use,” Valente said.
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