If you want to help struggling kids while also improving your school environment, Drug Free Clubs of America is a great place to start! DFCA will encourage students to take responsibility for themselves, help parents to feel comfortable having more open conversations with their kids, and provide the tools to foster positive peer pressure around substance use.
Learn how to activate the program at your school! Download these six steps to start your DFCA chapter.
DFCA reinforces everything that we are trying to teach…in a positive and empowering manner. I have had three students this year quit smoking pot so that they could be included in DFCA, the positive culture in our building surrounding the program draws them in and gives them a great reason to say “no, I might get tested this week.”
Faculty, Wayne County Schools Career Center
Get Your School Started
Every new DFCA program begins with a planning period. It is not uncommon for schools do a planning year, but allow for a minimum of four months if you are starting from scratch. Taking the time to lay a strong foundation will pay off greatly when your community, school, and families are all properly engaged and can unite to support your drug-free students. Our Program Development Specialist, Dave Huggins, partnered with others in his community to open 8 DFCA chapters before even coming on board. Now as a full time staff member, his primary goal is to strengthen and grow DFCA chapters. Dave will guide and support you along every step of the way. He can be easily reached at email@example.com .
Complete the necessary agreements in the New Branch Packet (blue button) no later than the end of May for a fall launch, and designate your school’s “Chapter Coordinator”
The most successful chapter coordinators have a motivational personality. They are driven to spread the word about this new way to keep kids drug free and love coming up with creative ways to reward your members. This is not very time consuming, but it must be consistent.
Identify a handful of leaders in the student body to become “Officers”
Explain DFCA’s concept and empower them to help design and operate your chapter including reward creation and marketing strategies. This is an AWESOME resume builder for students and makes your program more relevant among students.
Establish your “In-School Rewards”
These have proven to be the most powerful of all rewards. Work with your ambassadors, administrators and staff to identify ways to use you resources creatively for rewards like:
Entry to sporting events, Dance ticket discounts, Field trips, Pizza parties, Skip to the front of the lunch line on certain days, Special parking space drawings, Extra treats at lunch like a big cookie. Encourage teachers and coaches to come up with rewards in class or practice.
Add a principal’s letter of support to DFCA’s parent materials and send them to your school’s families.
Tell parents why the school is invested in the program and explain your specific in-school rewards. It is impressive to have several signatures on the letter. This mailer opens registration, so make it clear and convincing!
Use EVERY opportunity to spread the word! Ask student officers for ideas on building excitement! Freshman recruiting, Coach’s meetings, Orientations, Parent nights, ANY captive audience needs to hear that your school is invested in keeping its students drug free!
Rewards at School
Educators know that there are few things more powerful than being praised in front of peers. One of the best parts about hosting Drug Free Clubs of America is that schools can use the club as fuel for a positive school culture. Every time a member is recognized, the program’s influence grows throughout the student body.
Consistency is the key!
No matter how big or how small, an ongoing “drip” of rewards reminds students that their commitment to remaining drug free should be celebrated. This sets members on a pedestal and creates the desire within non-members to join. Having student officers design rewards will make them more desirable. This is the main way to create positive peer-to-peer influence with your club.
Rewards do not have to be expensive – just get your student officers together with your school calendar and BE CREATIVE! HINT: Build excitement for raffles (while slyly showing members who else is in your club) by announcing that there will be a drawing and having them show their DFCA ID to put their name in in the hopper.
Here are some ideas of what other Drug Free Club chapters do…
- Beat the rush – DFCA members get out 5 minutes early to get out of the parking lot fast! If you have a big club this can be done by class, by alphabet, by floor, or by drawing random room numbers ahead of time.
- Class vs class – Early in the year announce that the class with the highest percentage of participation in DFCA will earn a prize or certain privilege!
- Out of uniform – When the rest of the kids are in their uniforms, DFCA is not! This is another way for students to see who is in the club with them.
- Field Trips – It is hard to find anything that motivates students more than the chance to go on a field trip. Members love going, and non-members wish they had joined. Make sure this special Drug Free Clubs recognition day is in all of your marketing and it will certainly increase your student participation!
- Tournament Time – Student officer’s choice of sport – Ping pong, Bags, Softball, Volleyball, etc. Amp it up by involving challenges against admin, staff or coaches!
- Spirit Gear – Students receive a certificate to be used for a discount on school spirit wear (redeem only with DFCA ID), or give away gear during the year!
- Free Entry to Sporting Events – The Club Card is all a student needs for entry to all or designated athletic events! (Can’t forego the funds? Get a local business to sponsor the reward night to cover entry fees for drug free teens. Perfect for Realtors, insurance, attorneys, doctors, etc. Take a moment at half-time to recognize the members and applaud the business. It’s great PR!)
- Spread the word – Incorporate DFCA into the classroom with writing contests, PSA creations, or artistic expressions based on drugs, addiction, staying drug free, peer pressure, or other related topics. The best project or piece wins!
- Big Cookie Day – Show your Card to receive a free big cookie at lunch! (Just drop a tub of cookie dough off to the lunch staff in the morning. This one is super simple and VERY effective.)
- Box / Court Side / Field Side Seats – Schools that have highly desired seating areas in their facilities or at special events can use that as a fantastic reward for a member and some friends during the big game, or for the upcoming production! Make it even more special by placing reserved signs on the seats ahead of time with the member’s name!
- Line Jump Day – Members use their DFCA ID as a pass to jump to the front of the lunch line on popular lunch days! Depending on the size of your club you can do it for all members at once, at a random moment in time, or one class or specific group at a time.
- Half-Court Shot / Goal Kick – At half time DFCA members can take a shot for a chance to win a prize! Form a line to take your shot or show the DFCA ID to put your name in a hat for your chance.
- Hot Chocolate Bar / Free Beverage – A student shows their Club Card to enjoy a special hot chocolate bar or coffee from the school, or a free drink from the concession stand once a month!
- Discounted tickets for school dances – to all members or raffle some off!
- Gift Card Giveaways – Gift cards from local businesses are raffled off throughout the school year, and at special events. Try to do regular Friday drawings.
- Rock Star Parking – Reserve the best parking for lucky members whose name gets picked!
- Ice cream parties – Just like the hot chocolate bar, but for those hot days toward the end of the school year.
- Popcorn Give-away – Free popcorn at lunch or at the big game with a DFCA ID!
- Lounge Lizards – Designate a little-used room or certain area as your DFCA lounge. Open for business once a month with student officers giving out popcorn or other goodies. Music, computers, and inspirational posters create a spot where members can hang out! Use that time to ask the members if they have any new ideas about rewards!
- Designer Challenge – find a local business, group of parents, or maybe the alumni association to sponsor t-shirts designed by members. Take votes, and the best design wins!
- Red, White, and Blue Graduation Cords – for those in DFCA senior year, or reserve the privilege for those in DFCA for all 4 years of high school.
- And of course, old reliable… Pizza Parties!
What to Expect on Test Day
Here’s everything you need to know about Test Day:
- Applications are completed by parents & students, and turned into the front office
- On test day students are called to the front office, where they are told it Drug Free Clubs test day and they are told where to go for testing.
- The student arrives at the testing area, signs in, and is handed their application back (it has the parent’s signature as a consent to do the test that the collectors will need to see)
- The applicant sits down at computers or tablets to create their online DFCA account and take an anonymous survey.
- Photo taking is the next station, where the student’s picture is taken and gets linked to the account just created.
- On to the bathroom. Students show their signed application to the collector, and go in the bathroom alone. After filling a sample cup ½ way, they leave their sample in the restroom and come out to let the collector know they are finished.
- The collector completes a medical form with the student, and gives them a hall pass. There is no indication of any test result and the collector does NOT need to be told about any prescriptions.
- Students end their test day at a goodie bag station, filling a lunch bag with treats. Schools are highly encouraged to allow students to eat their treats in class in front of the other students so they all know this person was just tested so it’s not even worth trying to offer any substances.
- Parents are contacted regarding any samples where the lab confirms the presence of substances. Prescriptions are verified and/or conversations are held about what was present.
- In about a month ID cards arrive at school welcoming students into the club who passed their drug test and rewards begin! As a part of Parents also receive letters at home congratulating them on their child’s acceptance, and urging them to talk to their teen about this membership.