Pubdate: Fri, 22 May 2009
Source: Niagara This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Paul Forsyth
Bookmark: (Youth)


Young People Will Be Asked To Take Leading Role

With most Niagara teens saying illegal drugs and alcohol are often 
readily available to them, a new strategy has been launched to 
convince young people to stay clean and sober.

The Niagara Drug Awareness Committee, a coalition comprised of the 
Region, the public and Catholic school boards, Brock University, 
Niagara Regional Police, the RCMP and other agencies, has been 
approved to receive $450,000 from Health Canada over three years to 
reduce substance abuse among young people.

The partner agencies will pitch in 'in-kind' contributions such as 
staff time and office space, knocking the total amount up to about 
$937,000 over the project's timeframe.

The idea behind the project is that young people themselves will be 
recruited to take a leading role in combating substance abuse, said 
Maria Brigantino, manager of chronic disease and injury prevention 
with the Region's public health unit.

She said a youth engagement co-ordinator will recruit young people to 
guide and support them at potentially every high school and agency in 
Niagara that youth are involved in. The partnership will also hold 
annual conferences or forums to educate youth, parents and 
caregivers, and people involved with young people on ways to steer 
teens away from drugs.

Brigantino said it's hoped the project will result in peer-led 
substance abuse prevention groups that will be sustainable by 2011.

She told regional politicians Tuesday that drugs and booze are easily 
available to teens, according to the Toronto-based Centre for 
Addiction and Mental Health's student drug use and health survey and 
to research conducted at Brock University.

That research found that 70.5 per cent of students report that 
illegal drugs were available sometimes, often, almost always or 
always, and that 72.2 per cent of teens report the same thing for alcohol.

The research also found that 41 per cent of teens reported using 
marijuana at least once in the last year, 86 per cent reported 
consuming at least some booze in the last year, that 26 per cent of 
youth have been passengers with drivers who have been drinking, and 
that 15 per cent of students may have a drug problem.
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