Pubdate: Thu, 24 Mar 2016
Source: Alberni Valley News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Alberni Valley News
Author: Katya Slepian


RCMP Brings Drug Awareness to Students in the Valley

Port Alberni kids transitioning between elementary and high school 
will get a burst of drug awareness thanks to a new two-day program.

Yes 2 Know is a province-wide RCMP-led initiative that seeks to give 
youth the knowledge about how to say 'no to drugs' now.

The program goes beyond the DARE education that Grade 5 students receive.

The Port Alberni Yes 2 Know edition takes place from April 5-6 and is 
a partnership between the RCMP, the school district parent advisory 
council and sponsors like Valley Vision and Brent Manson's office.

"It's the Youth Empowerment Summit. 'Know' is for knowledge and we've 
broken that down further to the word 'now.' It's important for kids 
to 'know this stuff now' so that they can make healthy choices now as 
opposed to waiting,' said Central Island RCMP Cpl. Dave Cusson.

Cusson, who used to be based in Port Alberni, is with the drugs and 
organized crime awareness service in Nanaimo.

"That's what the convention is about. It's a highlight to kids at 
their vulnerable times, pre- and post-transition."

The two-day event targets Grade 7s, Grade 8s and their parents.

"The first day is for all the Grade 7s in the school district. 
They'll be participating in a full day of prevention education," said Cusson.

"They'll be going through a variety of keynote speakers, fun 
activities, food, they'll all get a t-shirt, there will be prizes... 
it's meant to be a highlight of their grade."

Grade 7s will listen to keynote speaker Jesse Miller.

"He's an expert in the world of online citizenship-how kids represent 
themselves in an online environment."

Cusson said it's important to get the Grade 7s before they move onto 
high school.

But its important for Grade 8s to learn the information too.

"They're already post transition so their day is a little different," 
said Cusson.

Some of the keynotes will stay the same, however.

"There will be a keynote about brains and brain development and 
another keynote talking about social belonging."

Grade 8s will get educated on marijuana by criminology interns 
working with Cusson.

"They've been specially trained to talk about marijuana and decision 
making," Cusson said.

"The Grade 8s have identified that that's an issue-that drug 
(marijuana) is really starting to show itself."

But Cusson wants to educate the entire community, not just the 
students, by hosting a community night on April 5 at 6 p.m.

"I've partnered with the district parent advisory council and they're 
hosting a parent night for the community."

The three-hour event will feature community resources and keynote speakers.

"Gary Anaka, the brain guy, is going to talk about how to connect to 
the teen brain," said Cusson. Parents will also hear from Jesse 
Miller about how to create boundaries and expectations in their 
children's online usage.

While drug awareness programs already exist for students in Port 
Alberni, Cusson sees this as a way to make a bigger impact.

"There is a drug prevention continuum going on here. DARE is our 
foundational drug awareness piece and then we build a piece after 
that called Being True and the [Yes2Know] convention kicks in in the 
middle," said Cusson. The event is meant to spur on conversation 
outside of just the two days.

"After that, we have post-convention strategies for the kids in Grade 
9, 10, 11."

For more information, visit or
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom