The multicultural keepin’ it REAL curriculum has proven effective in reducing adolescent alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use in 7th and 8th grade students by:

  • Preparing students to act decisively in refusing offers to use drugs
  • Helping students recognize risks and avoid drug-related situations
  • Building strong decision-making, communication, planning and assertive refusal skills
  • Empowering youth to value their own perceptions and feelings and make choices that support drug-free values

keepin’ it REAL is based on research begun in 1989 which examines how youth are offered and competently resist drug offers as well as how they assess risks and make good decisions. Applying a narrative prevention approach developed by Michelle Miller-Day and Michael Hecht, stories from youth were collected and transformed into ten interactive lessons using videotapes and other highly involving teaching techniques.

The core of the program is the REAL strategies for resisting drug offers: Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave. By highlighting these four methods of communicating, the program helps kids understand the risks of drugs, teaches them to make good decisions and resist the temptation to use drugs.

Features of the curriculum:

  • 10 lessons delivered over a 10 week period
  • Lessons all run 40-45 minutes
  • Lessons promote interaction between students and teachers
  • Lessons feature fun activities that involve students in their own learning
  • Lessons offer students the opportunity act out the REAL Strategies of Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave
  • Curriculum uses a series of five videos produced by youth and based on students’ real stories as a key learning tool.


The kiR curriculum consists of 10 lessons designed to be taught in 40-45 minute segments. The lessons include a variety of teaching modalities aimed at encouraging student participation such as group work, role-plays, pair discussion, and games. The lessons are designed to promote interaction among the students as well as between the students and the teacher, so that the students are involved in their own learning.

Lesson 1: Options and Choices Lesson 6: Avoid
Lesson 2: Risks Lesson 7: Leave
Lesson 3: Communication and Conflict Lesson 8: Norms
Lesson 4: Refuse Lesson 9: Feelings
Lesson 5: Explain Lesson 10: Support Network

Each lesson includes a lesson outline, an activity sheet with instructions, student worksheets for use in class and as homework, and notes to the teacher. Enjoyable activities are included to illustrate the skills and allow students to practice the REAL (Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave) resistance strategies. Each lesson includes a homework assignment and, starting with lesson two, a review of the previous lesson's concepts. The students' performance on the homework worksheets allows teachers to assess how well they are grasping the skills and knowledge taught in class. Overheads, in-class worksheets, and Spanish materials are provided.


Five videos are used in the curriculum. The first video which accompanies Lesson one is an introduction to the curriculum. It is designed to get students excited about the program and to introduce the students who wrote the scripts, produced and acted in the videos which focus on the REAL strategies. The other four videos give the students the opportunity to see enactments of successful drug resistance by youth who are similar to them in age and ethnicity. Each video dramatizes drug use situations faced by students, and each ends with successful drug resistance.

Our stories come from the kids and were made into videos by students at South Mountain High School in Phoenix Arizona. These talented high school students won a regional Emmy Awards for their work on this project.

Spanish Translation

All of the in-class worksheets, homework sheets and overhead materials accompanying the lessons are available in Spanish.