When journalist and author Elizabeth Vargas visits New Albany on May 9 as part of the New Albany Community Foundation's Jefferson Series, the New Albany-Plain Local School District will use the opportunity to hold a community forum on alcohol-abuse prevention in April.
Vargas is a well-known television anchor who chronicled her battle with alcohol addiction in her 2016 book, "Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction."
The related community forum is just one of the ways the school district is expanding its Well-being Initiative for students, according to Superintendent Michael Sawyers.
Focus areas include suicide prevention, drug and alcohol education, substance-abuse prevention, bullying prevention, internet safety and citizenship, said Assistant Superintendent Marilyn Troyer.
The importance of the Well-being Initiative -- to help each student develop a sense of well-being, which entails both mental and physical health, and to empower the community with resources to that end -- has been underscored by school-shooting tragedies across the U.S., Sawyers said.
The alcohol-abuse-prevention community forum is just one example of the initiative. The forum will be held in April, Sawyers said, to lead up to New Albany High School's prom in May.
District spokesman Patrick Gallaway said the forum is scheduled 7 to 8:30 p.m. April 24 at New Albany Intermediate School, 177 N. High St.
It will be open to any students, parents or community members who want to attend, Gallaway said.
The content will be geared to both students and parents, he said, and no registration is required.
Other efforts related to fostering students' well-being are ongoing.
A parent-focused education-action team comprising more than 50 individuals is working to plan a variety of district events for parents, Sawyers said.
"That team is very active," he said.
Another team is working to secure volunteer and financial commitments for the district's focus on well-being, Sawyers said.
At the end of May, a team of district staff members is expected finish a plan dedicated to mapping the next school year's programs for delivering well-being education to students, Sawyers said.
Some programs already are in progress.
For example, the district is partnering with Healthy New Albany to research if performing physical activity twice daily in the classroom helps kindergartners learn and affects their well-being, Sawyers said.
The district also will help students learn about the "R Factor" this month and in April, Sawyers said. The R Factor means "event plus response equals outcome," he said. The response-and-outcome training has been popularized in central Ohio by the Focus 3 organization.
As another example, middle school and high school students continue to participate in the Sources of Strength program, which focuses on building a positive support system, Troyer said.
"What it does is it helps them to learn about (support systems) they have access to, things they can call upon when they're having troubles, problems, difficulties and so forth," she said.
Such systems include family, mentors, positive friendships and healthy activities, Troyer said.