1. Begin the session by telling the students that, for the next few weeks, the focus of the Healthy Living class will be on alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs. Explain that statistics show that few students in grade 7 actually use alcohol, cannabis, or any other drug. However, by the time students reach grade 9, the percentage of students who have tried alcohol, cannabis, or any other drug has increased from the grade 7 percentage. Ask students if they have any idea why the percentage goes up between grade 7 and grade 9.

  2. While the students are sharing their ideas about why they think the percentage goes up between grades 7 and 9, listen for examples of influencing factors. Explain that one of the reasons that more students have tried alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs by the time they reach grade 9 is because they experience a range of things that influence their thinking, behaviour, and decisions.

  3. Share with the students that the three main types of influences that can affect decisions about alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs are the individual, other people in an individual's life, and the kinds of things an individual sees and hears in their community or the world around them. Using the Circles of Influence slide (7.A), explain to the students that, in the coming weeks, the class will be looking at the following influences:
    • how I influence myself
    • how others influence me
    • how I am influenced by the world around me

  4. Explain to the students that one of the things the class will be looking at is a model for making decisions that each student can use to apply to their own day-to-day life. This will become one of the ways that they can influence themselves.

  5. Indicate to the students that the class will also be looking at the ways friends have an influence on each of them. The students will get the chance to use the decision-making model and a few other tools in some possible situations where friends are trying to have an influence on individual decisions about alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs.

  6. Tell the class that, towards the end of this unit, they will be looking at the potential influence of alcohol advertising on teenagers. To do this, though, everyone in the class will need to do some detective work in the next few weeks. Ask the students to start looking for alcohol advertisements when they go home today and keep on doing it until they are asked to bring what they have found to class.

Here are the guidelines for the advertising search to share with the class:
  • Focus only on alcohol advertising.

  • Any type of ad is okay. It can be a print ad from a magazine or newspaper. They can also videotape an ad from television or take a picture of a billboard ad or an ad in a store.

  • If they do not have a way of taping or photographing a particular ad, they can write down a description of the ad. This will allow students to include radio ads and ads at sports or recreational events.

  • Asking for help from family and friends is okay.

  • Be particularly watchful for ads that could appeal to teenagers because they include animals, show young-looking people having a good time, include a well-known sports or entertainment celebrity, look like a cartoon, or use a well-known song as part of the ad.

Throughout the first two learning theme activities remind the students to keep collecting their ads throughout the first two learning theme activities. Watch for and collect ads yourself to avoid having no ads to work with for the third learning theme.