PANDA for Substance Abuse Prevention

PANDA is a substance abuse prevention program developed for use in early childhood settings. It includes a wide variety of developmentally-appropriate activities for children aged four and older. Designed to teach young children about the importance of building healthy bodies and saying "no" to substances that can hurt them, the curriculum helps children develop positive feelings about themselves, and gives them practice in making appropriate decisions in the face of peer pressure.

Check review links on the right.

Educating the children is important, but may not be enough to affect future choices and behaviors. Research indicates that family members have a significant impact on a child's behavior. Therefore, an effective prevention program must include family education and support.

PANDA includes materials and guidelines for involving families, teachers, administrators and other segments of the child's community. Through teamwork, coordinators of education, parent involvement and social services, PANDA can help early intervention programs help children and families say "yes" to a lifetime of good health.


Contents of the PANDA Kit include:

  • 320-page manual with dozens of activities for children,
  • ideas for involving parents and community,
  • words for all the songs,
  • illustrations that can be decorated and mounted for use with children, and
  • 4 audio cassettes (with CD) with songs and stories.

_______Price for Kit: $ 65.95
_______Manual alone: 39.95
_______To order, click here.

The Curriculum

PANDA is based on the conviction that children can have an ongoing impact on their own health and safety if they are actively educated. The curriculum features four units:

  • Building Healthy Bodies;
  • Saying No to Tobacco;
  • Saying No to Alcohol; and,
  • Saying No to Drugs.

The overall goal of the curriculum is to increase each child's knowledge and under-
standing about the importance of a healthy body, the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol and drugs and the empowerment to say "no" to peer pressure. For more information on the efficacy of providing this kind of information to very young children, check the PANDA links in the column on the right.

Specific Goals Include:

  • To encourage pride in the uniqueness of each child in order to help children
    develop strong, positive self-images.
  • To encourage children to say "yes" to a lifetime of good health.
  • To help children understand that there are things in their lives over which they can
    exercise control (e.g. what goes into their bodies).
  • To help children learn strategies for responding to peer pressure by providing practice in: a) weighing the consequences of various actions, and b) demonstrating appropriate response behaviors in a non-threatening environment.

In order to meet these goals each of the four units includes activities designed to help
children feel good about themselves and activities which present concrete information
(on food, drink, drugs and tobacco) upon which use decisions are made. Also in-
cluded are activities designed to help children feel comfortable with decision-making
and activities related to refusal strategies to give children confidence in acting on their

Designing a Community Approach

An effective substance abuse prevention program must involve the children, their parents, program staff, and others in the community. The more people who are committed to a substance abuse prevention effort within your community, the more successful your program is likely to be. A coordinated substance abuse prevention program should include:

  • an awareness and utilization of community organizations and resources for sub-
    stance abuse;
  • ongoing parent education and family support; and,
  • component coordination and cooperation in implementing the substance abuse

The first step in designing and implementing a drug education program is the estab-
lishment of a program-level drug awareness task force involving parents, teachers, and administrators. Invite community representatives (e.g. a mental health or substance abuse counselor, a physician) to join your task force. Together, members of the task force can:

  • assess specific local conditions;
  • survey local resources;
  • develop a program for staff, parents and children;
  • implement the program; and,
  • evaluate its effectiveness.

Once the program is underway, the local task force can expand its efforts to the com-
munity at large in order to let others know what your program is doing in the sub-
stance abuse prevention effort.

To order the PANDA curriculum, click here:

Sample Illustrations:

Bobo is tempted to try a cigarette.

How does it make him feel?

Bobo eats something he shouldn't

the doctor helps.

PANDA Links:

Study of PANDA in Hillsborough County, FL.

PANDA in Baltimore, MD (Abstract)

PANDA in Baltimore, MD (Journal Article)

PANDA in Baltimore, A Review

Substance Abuse in Children

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