Pubdate: Wed, 02 Feb 2011
Source: Richmond News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011, Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Eve Edmonds


Cops, city, school district, Scouts team up for anti-drug project

In a show of unity, representatives from the RCMP, the City of
Richmond, the Richmond School District and Scout Canada showed support
for a new initiative aimed at helping kids stay off drugs.

The Canadian Youth Drug-Free Project, the brain child of the
Integrated Youth Services Society (IYSS), will see a group of students
from Hong Kong visit Grade 8 and 9 students in Richmond to talk about

And the visiting teens know what they're talking about. All are former
drug addicts currently attending Christian Zheng Sheng College, a
one-of-a-kind accredited high school in Hong Kong. Its students are
all referrals from social workers and the judicial system.

"It is an extremely successful program," said Esther Ho, executive
director of IYSS.

Before immigrating to Canada, Ho was a social worker in Hong Kong and
worked with many youth who attended the school.

"Their success rate for keeping kids off drugs is very high."

Moreover, the school has an excellent academic program, making
employers eager to hire its graduates, said Ho.

The combination of academics and drug treatment makes the school
unique as does the fact students and staff all live on the campus,
creating an cohesive, supportive environment.

While there is no such school here, the concept of integration is well
understood to be fundamental in helping kids make healthy choices,
said Const. Tammy-Lyn Walker, a Richmond RCMP officer who runs the
D.A.R.E program in Richmond's elementary schools.

D.A.R.E. teaches Grade 5 students about what drugs can do to one's
body, but more importantly it coaches them in how to make positive

By while cops in schools can help some kids stay on track, for others
the message hits closer to home when it's coming from a peer, which is
why Ho thinks the Drug-Free Project, in which kids who have been there
and back, talk to local students, will be effective.

"This is our hope that through their stories, the tragedy of what can
happen when dealing with drugs, and the testimonies of coming out of
that lifestyle can be a positive influence and inspiration to the
teenagers (here.)"

The youth will be in Richmond for two weeks from Feb. 12-27. In that
time they will speak with various school and Scout groups.

Helping youth stay clean, however, isn't done just by telling them
what not to do. It's also done by providing positive things to do,
said Krista Germyn, a leader with the city's youth services department.

Richmond trustee Chak Au said the same is for parents, it's not just
about tell your kids not to do drugs, it's about being engaged in
their lives.

Airfare for the students will be paid for by their school, while IYSS
will cover their costs while here.
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