December 17, 2019 –Today the Upper Canada District School Board signed a memorandum of understanding to join a collaborative effort led by Planet Youth Lanark County. Planet Youth is a community based approach to preventing problematic substance use by youth.
“We are pleased to work with our community partners on this initiative,” said Upper Canada District School Board Chair John McAllister. “Youth substance abuse is a real issue in our society, and ignoring it won’t fix the problem. If we want our youth to be successful in school and in life we need to help communities in their design of strategies to respond to young people in areas where they need guidance or support.”
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario signed a memorandum of understanding with Planet Youth Lanark County in June 2019.
“The CDSBEO is proud to be part of this exciting and well-established project. We recognize that substance use is a concern throughout our communities and are dedicated to ensuring that our students have access to the best prevention supports possible. This project complements other prevention and intervention strategies currently offered to CDSBEO students,” noted John Cameron, CDSBEO Director of Education.
The partners of Planet Youth Lanark County have been collaborating since 2017 to bring this evidence-based approach to Lanark County and the Town of Smiths Falls. Planet Youth Lanark County recently entered into an agreement with United Way East Ontario to receive administrative and fundraising support. Additional key partners on the Steering Committee include: Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth; the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit; representatives from both English language school boards and community volunteers from Municipal Drug Strategy committees. Planet Youth Lanark County is being supported by international experts who are currently working with 110 communities across 30 countries.
Planet Youth Lanark County is ready to move forward by holding meetings and workshops in January to introduce the community to the approach, explain the methodology and start working with community members and municipalities to roll out this initiative. Data will be compiled based on student surveys conducted in the high schools; these reports will allow each community to understand its own risk and protective factors. Through Planet Youth Lanark County, each community will be offered access to experts who can assist in analyzing and developing plans to respond to the reports.
The success of the Planet Youth program in Iceland has included a 38 per cent reduction in grade 10 students reporting having been “drunk in past 30 days” (from 42 per cent to 5 per cent in 20 years). For more information about Planet Youth Lanark County, visit: https://planetyouthlanark.ca/.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Susan Healey, PLanet Youth Lanark Communications Committee
PHOTO: Seated at the table: Elaine Murkin and David Somppi from Planet Youth, Chair John McAllister and Trustee Jamie Schoular from Upper Canada District School Board.