The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media
BOSTON – Massachusetts Atorney General Maura Healey and the GE Foundation today, April 26, announced an additional $600,000 has been committed to Project Here, a public-private collaboration to make substance use prevention education available to all public middle schools in Massachusetts.
The AG’s Office and the GE Foundation, in collaboration with FableVision Studios, have also launched new updates to make the program’s educational app, Project Here Games, more accessible and inclusive, including translating the app into Spanish and adding more content focused on cultural responsiveness.
“Project Here’s resources on social emotional learning and skill-building, including healthy ways to cope with stress, are increasingly important and relevant as young people are dealing with social isolation, stress and anxiety during COVID-19,” said Healey. “We are grateful to the GE Foundation for their continued support of this program and are excited to unveil updates to Project Here Games that will make them more relevant, effective, and accessible for students.”
“We’re proud to continue this important and impactful partnership with AG Healey on Project Here and help our youth navigate the new and unique challenges they face today,” said David Barash, Executive Director, GE Foundation. “By making this new investment together, we are helping middle schoolers practice healthy decision-making, create positive interpersonal relationships, develop social-emotional skills, and prevent substance use before it starts.”
Designed to tackle a significant unmet need for prevention education in the state’s battle against the ongoing opioid crisis, Project Here was announced in May 2017 by the AG’s Office and the GE Foundation to promote social emotional learning and empower students to make healthy decisions through an innovative combination of curricula, digital content, and support for educators and students.
The additional $600,000 commitment announced today brings the total investment to $2.6 million and will help fund the program over the next few years.
To date, more than 361 schools have registered for Project Here and are accessing its resources.
More than 500 educators have received training and technical assistance on how to use Project Here’s resources and best practices in substance use prevention. Project Here has also provided nearly $450,000 in grant funding to schools and districts to implement evidence-based curricula.
Project Here Games, a first-of-its-kind web-based education app announced in September 2018 and developed for Project Here by FableVision Studios, provides an innovative and engaging digital experience to teach students about healthy choices, peer pressure, substance use and coping with stress. Through games, quizzes, and scenarios, students gain practical skills to navigate challenging situations and make healthy decisions now and for the future.
Today, the AG’s Office is unveiling important updates to the app to make it more accessible and inclusive, with a focus on cultural responsiveness. Those updates include translating the entire app into Spanish and adding a “read aloud” feature, in English and Spanish, for students who read below grade level and/or who are English-language learners. The updated version also includes new scenarios developed with an equity lens, which include content on racial and socioeconomic microaggressions.
The new updates also allow teachers and students to log in and play Project Here Games using their Google Classrooms accounts. Project Here Games is available for free on computers, tablets, and smart phones and has the flexibility to be used by teachers as an in-classroom activity or by students outside of school.
In February 2019, Project Here Games was selected as a 2019 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner for its “skillfully designed” content and thought-provoking hypothetical scenarios for allowing children to consider how different actions can have different outcomes.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the risks of substance use. Ninety percent of all adults struggling with addiction started using when they were under the age of 18, and 50 percent were under the age of 15. Studies have shown that effective substance use education and prevention programming can significantly decrease the risk of substance use among young people.
People can learn more information and schools can register for Project Here, which provides access to the Online Toolkit and support for Project Here Games, at www.projectherema.org. Project Here Games is available at www.projectheregames.org