HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Program Targets Adolescents
Pubdate: Fri, 06 Feb 2004
Source: Daily Graphic (CN MB)
Copyright: 2004 Portage la Prairie Daily Graphic
Author: Ginny Collins


Middle years students will receive counseling on how to say no to drugs 
when it really counts thanks to a pilot project through Addictions 
Foundation of Manitoba and Portage la Prairie School Division.

The division's drug awareness project, started last September, promises 
that by the end of this school year, every Grade 7 and 8 student in Portage 
and Oakville will have gone through an extensive drug and alcohol 
prevention program.

The idea for the project came from the results of a survey conducted by the 
Rural and Northern Youth Intervention Strategy that studied drug and 
alcohol use in communities such as Portage.

"We looked at the stats and they're telling us that many of our kids are 
experiencing this kind of thing around the age of 12 and a half," said 
Barry Rud, a youth counsellor with AFM who will be spearheading the project.

He added the studies showed if children are going to experiment with drugs 
and alcohol, they will likely start at an early age.

The program for Grade 7 students includes a six-session presentation where 
Rud speaks to classes while conducting interactive activities to teach 
children drug information and prevention strategies. For Grade 8 students, 
information is provided about marijuana and its long-term effects.

There is also one-on-one counseling offered to students who are at risk of 
substance abuse or who are dealing with someone affected by drugs or alcohol.

"I go back again and again so the kids get to know who I am, feel 
comfortable approaching me," said Rud, who also works with students at the 
high school level.

All schools that teach junior high grades in the Portage division are 
hosting the program including Ecole Prince Charles, Yellowquill, 
Crescentview, La Verendrye and Oakville schools.

Rud said the programs are spread throughout the year amongst the various 
schools so he is able to keep in touch with students and teachers.

"We want to provide all students in the division with a consistent base," 
he said.

Ron Goodale, principal of Ecole Prince Charles School, said the program is 
an excellent initiative and students seem to be learning something from it.

"Barry is friendly, easy to talk to. The kids are comfortable around him 
and he's very comfortable around them," he said.

This is the first year a program of this nature has taken place in the 

Rud said the program is being run this year on a pilot basis and continued 
funding through both the AFM and the Portage division will depend on its 

"We're hopeful that we'll be able to find the resources. We'll see what 
goes on," said Rud.

This year's sessions and counseling should be completed in all the schools 
by April or May.
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