Planet Youth Lanark County: Bringing Proven Problematic Substance Use Prevention to Canada


January 13, 2020

Planet Youth Lanark County (PYLC) is a community driven effort to bring a proven problematic substance-use prevention model to Canada.  Our communities of Lanark County & Smiths Falls are the first in Canada to embrace the Planet Youth model.  The Canadian launch takes place at a public meeting on January 20 in Carleton Place. Jón Sigfússon and Páll Melsted Ríkharðsson from the Icelandic Center for Social Research and Analysis will share how this evidence-based approach works.

“In 2018, Planet Youth and ICSRA caught the attention of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. In her yearly message, she referred to our risk and protective factors. It highlighted the belief of Canadian authorities that multi-level and multi-sector initiatives could have greater and longer lasting effects than stand-alone interventions,” says Jón Sigfússon, Director of the Icelandic Center for Social Research and Analysis. “It therefore gives us great hope to see that Lanark County, first of other municipalities in Canada, is starting to implement the same methodology, which has changed the whole landscape in adolescent substance use prevention in Iceland for the last 20 years.”

In 2019, PYLC established valued collaborations with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario and the Upper Canada District School Board to conduct student surveys in their English language high schools. Survey reports, for each municipality, will allow communities to understand their own risk and protective factors. More importantly, surveys in future years will measure the results of community-specific actions designed to improve results for our communities’ youth.

In addition, Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth and the Royal Ottawa Institute for Mental Health Research are developing a framework that will be used to measure impacts on both substance use and mental wellness.

“Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth, the child and youth mental health centre in Lanark County is proud to be among the partnering agencies and individuals that together have created the pathway to bring Planet Youth to Lanark,” said Kevin Clouthier, Executive Director of Open Doors. “We understand the connection between mental health and problematic substance use.  We also understand how positive community conditions support child and youth health. Planet Youth will provide youth-informed feedback to advise our communities how to build upon our strengths and diminish our challenges. These outcomes are completely aligned with our mission to help Lanark children and youth live, learn and thrive.”

Planet Youth Lanark County is ready to introduce the community to the approach. The Canadian launch is part of a public meeting on January 20 in Carleton Place. The meeting takes place at Zion Memorial Church, 37 Franklin St., Carleton Place starting at 7:00 PM.

The following day, January 21st, Planet Youth experts will be conducting an in-depth workshop for community members, youth workers, municipal councillors, school board trustees, public health and other active partners who will actively support the broader community in developing plans prevent problematic substance use. Each community in Lanark County and Town of Smiths Falls will receive a report in late spring that describes risk and protective factors affecting its youth. The workshop will assist in preparing to receive these reports.

“Planet Youth Lanark County is excited to be working with a dynamic group of individuals and organizations. We encourage everyone to attend our January 20 launch in Carleton Place,” said PYLC Steering Committee chair David Somppi. “Working together we can make our communities better places for our youth to live and grow.”

Partners on the PYLC Steering Committee include: Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth; United Way East Ontario; the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit; representatives from both English language school boards and community volunteers from Municipal Drug Strategy committees and the wide communities. For more information, visit: or


For media interviews, contact: Susan Healey 613-802-0550 or





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