ThinkFirst Oregon, the Portland Alcohol Research Center, and the Oregon Poison Center, (AKA the Brain Team) all located at OHSU, recently collaborated on a presentation for kids in grades 4-6, addressing the influence of alcohol on the brain.
During a two day period, over 900 students were bussed into the Safe Kids Union County Safety Fair, held at the Blue Mountain Conference Center in La Grande, Oregon.
In 15 minute rotations, students learned about brain anatomy, function, and impact of alcohol on different areas of the brain.
Students participated in “Walk the Line” an activity very similar to a field sobriety test, where vision distortion goggles simulated the changes in behavior and coordination that alcohol can induce.
The Brain Team emphasized that in a real world situation, a pair of goggles can be taken off, while the influence of alcohol can stay with you.
Students were encouraged to apply what they learned about alcohol and the brain to their thinking about the other exhibits at the fair, which included ATV riding, preventing and handling bullying, safe bike riding, and wilderness safety. Students came up with ways that alcohol could influence safety, performance, and decision making in all those other areas.
Fiorella Carhuaz, Health Educator from the Oregon Poison center describes a memorable experience, “The most gratifying part of the event was when I saw their “aha” moment faces, and I knew they were deciding to say no to drinking.”
Teachers uniformly, and many quite emphatically, described the presentation and hands-on activities as very informative and age-appropriate. They thought it was effective experiential learning about the brain and the effects of alcohol, and was especially timely for students as they grow well into adolescence.
Mark Rutledge-Gorman, Education Core Director-Portland Alcohol Research Center
Fiorella Carhuaz, CHES Health Educator- Oregon Poison Center
Wallace Chan, Education Presenter -ThinkFirst Oregon