Five elementary schools in the Diocese, including Blessed Sacrament School, will take
part in the PAX Good Behavior Game Program.
Five elementary schools in the Diocese, including Blessed Sacrament School, will take part in the PAX Good Behavior Game Program.

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has awarded the Albany Diocesan School Board, on behalf of its Catholic elementary schools, $165,000 to implement addiction prevention programs in five Catholic elementary schools in Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Ballston Spa and Glen Falls. 

The funds will be used to implement the PAX Good Behavior Game Program, a powerful evidence-based practice that provides students with the skills necessary for self-regulation and co-regulation with peers, which has shown to reduce aggression and disruptive behavior, both of which are risk factors for adolescent and adult illicit drug use.

“We are keenly aware of the national rise in risk factors associated with addiction among young people,” said Giovanni Virgiglio, Diocesan Chancellor and Superintendent of Schools. Our Catholic schools educate the whole child – mind, body, and spirit. Prevention programs such as PAX, which is Latin for “peace,” equip our students with lifelong tools to support their overall health and well-being starting at a young age. 

“As one of only 11 providers chosen statewide, we are grateful to the New York State Office of Addiction and Substance Abuse Services for the trust they have placed in us to carry forth these critical services in our Catholic schools.”

PAX has shown to provide numerous short-term and lifetime benefits such as improving classroom performance, mental health outcomes and substance use prevention. Specifically, students in PAX classrooms have demonstrated decreased tobacco use, reduced alcohol use, decreased illicit drug use (including opioid abuse), and a lower level of overall services needed for substance abuse and/or psychiatric disorders.

The PAX initiative will be implemented in the 2019-2020 school year in 25 classrooms serving kindergarten through fourth grade at Blessed Sacrament School in Albany, Sacred Heart School in Troy, St. Kateri Tekakwitha School in Schenectady, St. Mary’s School in Ballston Spa, and St. Mary’s/St. Alphonsus School in Glens Falls.

“It’s important to raise awareness about substance abuse at an early age, and this funding will expand prevention education and resources in schools across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Co-Chair of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force.

 “We are committed in our efforts to prevent and treat addiction and help individuals and their families on the road to recovery. This program continues our investments to combat the opioid epidemic in New York State.”

School communities were selected based on a specific set of criteria and namely in counties that are presently underserved or not receiving any related prevention services. OASAS announced the awards last week of more than $1.6 million to help teachers across the state implement the PAX Program.

“Teaching our young people the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices helps them avert the perils that can result from substance use,” OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said.

“This invaluable funding will help us continue to advance our overall prevention efforts while also ensuring that we are teaching children the lifelong skills needed to lead drug-free, happy and productive lives.”