Pubdate: Fri, 17 Sep 2010
Source: Cranbrook Daily Townsman (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Glacier Interactive Media
Author: Bonnie Bryan


A news conference highlighting the success of a drug prevention
strategy piloted in Cranbrook was held Thursday afternoon just outside
the Cranbrook Rec Plex.

The RCMP has been experimenting with the way it educates young people
about drugs and alcohol and a program piloted in Cranbrook has proved
so successful the RCMP's Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service
(DOCAS) is now ready to expand it to other communities.

Cst. Michael McLaughlin, Federal Media Relations Officer with the
RCMP, said the program, which has been running for between six and
seven years, has seen positive results.

"The Community Prevention Education Continuum (CPEC) is more than just
a drug and alcohol strategy. In the past, we know at the RCMP, we've
been accused of having a narrow focus - well, we've realized in order
to affect positive change in youth we have to broaden our scope and
that's what we've been doing here," he said. "The results have come
back only fairly recently and for us they're very positive. We've got
hard statistics showing that this model works."

He said independent research shows that over about five years the CPEC
strategy has lowered alcohol use by eight per cent in Cranbrook, or
twice the provincial average, and marijuana use by almost 13 per cent,
which is five per cent more than the provincial average.

CPEC is a flexible strategy that helps young people make healthy
choices and requires cooperation from all sorts of community resources.

It enhances programs like DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education),
which is the largest drug prevention program being delivered by the

McLaughlin said one of the main driving forces behind CEPC has been
Cpl. Al Nutini, who said the program is a more complete way of
delivering a drug and alcohol prevention program.

"One of the things we realized was that when a student goes to school,
they don't just learn math in Grade 5, but they learn math from
Kindergarten right through to Grade 12," he said. "And we knew that
when it came to prevention and choices and focus on the health of our
children, we needed to take that direction with the prevention methods
and focusing kids on promoting their health."

Grade 12 student Julie-Ann Sternig said the drug and alcohol
prevention program made an impression on her.

"I went through the DARE program in elementary school for two years
and I think it has impacted my life in many ways. The decision making
model has helped me excel in what I love most, sports, and school,"
she said at the news conference. "I got my DARE letter back recently
that I wrote to myself in Grade six and this is something I took
really personally. In this letter I told myself I would reach any goal
I want and I said I need to make good decisions in life, which I
believe I've done so far."

Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak also spoke at the news conference and
said he is very proud of the program.

"Looking at this as it goes out into other communities I think it says
we are a community who truly cares and is trying to be progressive in
how we interact with our residents, agencies and those who reside in
the area," he said. "It shows that when you're proactive and you take
an approach that says we're going to try and approach a problem
different that results can actually happen."

In addition to gathering data and compiling statistics, East Kootenay
Addictions Services Society works with local educators to develop
creative programs that help youth make healthy decisions.

McLaughlin said they are working with the community of Haida Gwaii to
roll out CPEC there.

"The whole continuum of CPEC is very much about what does the
community want, what are the community needs, what is their feedback,"
he said. "We're going to take the lessons we've learned in Cranbrook,
apply them in Haida Gwaii and we're also gauging interest to see if
communities out there want this because when you've got a successful
strategy you want to bring it out and help as many people as you can."

Nutini said he is excited the program is going to Haida Gwaii and
possibly other communities.  
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