Rock in Prevention: Music with a message

2011-12-02T18:00:00Z 2011-12-03T04:59:10Z Rock in Prevention: Music with a messageBy EMILY CHRISTENSEN, emily.christensen@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Devin Simmons' hand was one of the first to shoot up when Patrick Tape Fleming asked for volunteers.

The North Cedar Elementary fifth-grader was excited to volunteer for any unknown task Fleming had in mind.

At least he thought he was.

Then Fleming, a Rock in Prevention presenter, told Simmons he wanted him to sing. A whole song. By himself. In front of all of his classmates.

Simmons started to lose some of his confidence until his schoolmates offered up their voices, chanting his name in support. His smile returned as he sang the song, accepted his Rock in Prevention shirt and returned to his seat.

Rock in Prevention is a nonprofit organization that teaches alcohol, drug and tobacco prevention and character and anti-bullying education through music. The program also teaches the kids the skills the need, like confidence and refusal skills, to stand up for what they believe in.

"Most schools feel the need or want this kind of programming in their school, but state and federal funds have been cut so much there just aren't enough resources," Fleming said.

Sixth-grader Alissa Huffman said she already knew that smoking cigarettes, drinking and doing drugs was bad, but it was fun to see the message presented through song and dance.

"I even got to go up and sing with them," she said.

The program uses local high school students as mentor role models who help lead the activities. Emma Husome, a Cedar Falls High School junior, was tapped to be one of those mentors.

"We were here at 7:15 (a.m.) still half asleep, but so pumped up. (Patrick) is so passionate about this it's hard not to get excited," Husome said. "I would come back and do it again."

And that is exactly what Rock in Prevention leaders want. Fleming said they encourage the elementary schools to tap into these high school mentors for future programming. The two-way relationship helps show the younger kids that following the right path can be cool and it gives the older students another reason to pause and consider their actions when faced with tough decisions.

Jane Harding, the school counselor, she knew Rock in Prevention was a "quality program" when they contacted her and jumped at the chance to bring them to the school.

"The message really sticks with the kids," Harding said. Fleming even incorporated Leader in Me language into his presentations to better tie the programming into the schools mission. "I thought it was a great program to reinforce what we are already talking about this year."

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