Purpose: To provide a systematic approach to learning and practicing socioemotional and behavioral skills for substance misuse and aggression prevention in an important developmental context of afterschool programs.

Elementary students jumping


Buddy Builder


The proposed project will create and evaluate the feasibility of a socioemotional, substance misuse prevention afterschool program for use with late elementary school-aged children.

The 20-week final program will consist of an afterschool kit including socioemotional skills taught and practiced through integration in a wide array of culturally diverse, developmentally appropriate art, music, dramatic arts, and kinesthetic activities. Socioemotional skill areas include the selection, making, and keeping of friendships; empathy and perspective-taking; anger management and problem solving; and real-world problem application.

Literacy and communication activities are integrated throughout the program.  In Phase I of the project, the first six weeks of the curriculum will be drafted and developed using an iterative feedback process involving focus groups with children and afterschool teachers.  The prototype will be tested in a feasibility study with 10 afterschool teachers randomly assigned to implement the program or serve in a wait-list control group.  Teachers will complete web-based teacher training and have access to web-based resources.  Teacher, student, and observer feedback will be obtained to provide systematic input on the feasibility, quality, and impact of the program. Assuming the prototype afterschool curriculum show promise, Phase II will involve completing the curriculum and evaluating its effectiveness in a randomized controlled trial.



Kupersmidt, J. B., Stump, K., & Stelter, R. L. (2019, April). The Buddy Builder Program: Integrating social-emotional learning into enrichment activities in elementary afterschool programs. Workshop presented at the Synergy Conference, Greensboro, NC.

Kupersmidt, J. B., Stump, K., & Stelter, R. L. (March 2019). Evaluation of the Buddy Builder afterschool program for promoting social-emotional skills in elementary school-aged children. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore, MD.


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