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Friendly PEERsuasion

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Girls Inc Friendly PEERsuasion® (GIFP) is an interactive prevention program aimed at helping girls in middle school (ages 11–14) acquire knowledge, skills, and support systems to avoid substance abuse. Girls Incorporated developed GIFP and offers it through a network of sites nationwide. The program draws on the social influence and life skills models of prevention, using a combination of adult leadership and peer reinforcement to teach girls to respond critically to messages and social pressures that encourage substance use. The program consists of two phases. In the first phase, girls participate in 14 hour-long sessions of curriculum training with a trained adult leader. Girls learn the short- and long-term effects of substance abuse, how to recognize media and peer pressures, and skills for making responsible decisions about drug use. The learning involves hands-on, interactive activities such as games, role-playing, and group discussions. Each session concentrates on a particular objective, while reinforcing skills and knowledge introduced in the previous session. After the completion of this core curriculum, the participants are certified as PEERsuaders. In the program’s second phase, the small teams of PEERsuaders plan and implement about 5 hours (8–10 half-hour sessions) of substance abuse prevention activities for girls (and sometimes boys) ages 6–10 who are called PEERsuade-Me’s. Each PEERsuader team of 2 to 3 girls is responsible for leading a group of 10 to 15 PEERsuade-Me’s. Working with their adult leader, the PEERsuaders draw on skills and activities they learned in the first phase of the program as well as on their own experiences and creativity to present factual information and practice skills related to substance abuse prevention.