Students Leading Students (SLS) is a school-based, substance abuse prevention and positive youth development program that targets youths in Michigan high schools. SLS aims to decrease alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use by youths through peer-led behavioral health and safety programming.
Through the establishment of SLS school chapters in Michigan high schools, the program centers on enabling students to influence their peers to make healthy choices. SLS chapters function for 9-12 months out of the year and include an adult faculty advisor and youth leaders who are trained and supported by program staff. With support from the faculty advisor, each SLS chapter is encouraged to meet regularly to select, plan, and implement strategies to address the perceived prevention needs of their school. The program is designed to be interactive and peer-led with activities oriented around engaging, educating, and motivating peers to make positive choices through modeling desirable behaviors. Youths in SLS chapters are encouraged to learn about substance use and present workshops to their peers on its dangers by planning social activities and events, developing publications, and disseminating positive messages via social media. Students also role play various situations in which peer pressure is common and how to keep their friends and maintain a substance-free lifestyle.
SLS chapters are coordinated and supported by SLS program staff, who work with students, advisors, parents, SLS alumni, and community leaders to provide a statewide infrastructure and network of SLS chapters. The SLS staff identify trends/concerns affecting Michigan youths and train adult advisors and student leaders to identify effective ways to address these needs. Core program components include training for adult advisors and students, hosting student-led conferences, providing grants, and disseminating evidence-based research and strategies on preventing unhealthy and unsafe behaviors.