Frequently Asked Questions

What you need to know.

Planet Youth Lanark County  promotes a new approach to identify and establish long-term, community-driven strategies that promote positive social and environmental change.

We propose to do this by engaging Planet Youth (ICSRA)’s guidance program. It is five years in length and brings the methods, support materials, data collection and analysis. The methods used are identical to the program we have successfully delivered in Iceland.


Our substance abuse rates are higher than the Ontario average, and as of the last few years, even lower-risk substances are causing high health risks due to dealer tampering (e.g. fentanyl spiking).  As well countless studies have revealed the longterm mental and physical health effects of cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol.  So, if we want healthy children, we need to take action.
No one from Iceland or anywhere else outside our communities is telling us what to do.  The pioneers in Iceland have simply devised an effective survey and data processing method to let us know where the problems really are and where they stem from.  It will be up to us here at the local level to recommend solutions based on that information.
Substance abuse affects everyone from many aspects such as mental and physical health to increased crime and societal costs.  We all pay educational taxes for example regardless of whether we have children in the school system or not.  Everyone has a responsibility to help improve their communities and to offer assistance to those that need it.


Planet Youth Lanark County

We are a steering committee of dedicated volunteer Community Stakeholders.

What we believe:  Drug prevention is possible!

  • The Icelandic Model can work in Lanark County and Smiths Falls.
  • Research evidence shows that a PREVENTION APPROACH is the key to delaying the initiation of substance use.

What we WANT:  Increased Community Safety & Well-Being
This approach benefits EVERY facet of our Communities.

We evolved from many meetings starting in February of 2017 with many stakeholders. The more we learned the more we came to believe that the Icelandic Solution for preventing youth problematic substance use could work in Lanark County and Smiths Falls.

What does Planet Youth Lanark County Do?

At this time Planet Youth LANARK COUNTY is:

  • creating awareness and building community capacity through presentations, website, FaceBook etc.
  • raising funds to implement the Guidance Program offered by Planet Youth (ICSRA) … see below
  • collaborating with School Boards to conduct surveys of grade 10 students

In the future PLANET Youth LANARK COUNTY will:

  • contract the 5-year Guidance Program with Planet Youth (ICSRA)
  • facilitate the distribution of the surveys once the school boards have approved the means and method
  • distribute the data results
    we propose local Municipal Drug Strategy (MDS) Committees receive the reports and use the results to identify local solutions.

Planet Youth

Planet Youth was developed by ICSRA (Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis). The programme has been supported from the outset by ECAD (European Cities Against Drugs) and The City of Reykjavík. The patron of the programme is the President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. The programme’s principal sponsor for the past 10 years has been Actavis Group.

The Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA) was founded in 1999 in collaboration with the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, and municipalities throughout Iceland. Since then, ICSRA has conducted a national Youth in Iceland program of surveys among 10-20-year-old children and adolescents, consisting of extensive data collection and information dissemination concerning family and adolescent welfare. Part of this effort was designed to inform the need for population-wide primary prevention through research aimed at arresting and reversing observed increases in adolescent substance use.

The three key aims of ICSRA are:

  1. to advance and distribute knowledge on the social determinants of health, well-being and behaviour of young people
  2. to enhance the quality of life of young people by improving health and well-being through the process of education and social change and
  3. to create a venue for collaboration of scholars; specifically, for the education and training of young scholars.

ICSRA is located at Reykjavik University (RU), a vibrant international university with 500 faculty members and around 3,000 students.

For the most part an MDS Committee is a committee of council that acts in an advisory way to provide a forum for the planning and implementation of a local drug strategy to create a healthy community.
We are finalizing our formal relationship with Planet Youth. Planet Youth Lanark County is raising the funds to get the program started. There will be no cost to local municipalities for at least the first 5 years.
  1. Planet Youth Lanark County and MDS Steering Committees receive the data from Planet Youth Guidance to identify the scope of the problem.
  2. Action shifts to the local MDS committees to disseminate and discuss the data with their communities.
  3. Local action is implemented based on the data through collaboration with local MDS committees, stakeholders and policy makers.
  4. The impact of local activities is measured through subsequent surveys. Local MDS committees use future reports to continuously strengthen action plans.
Since 1990 data and research has been compiled by social scientists at the Icelandic Center for Social Research and Analysis. The research confirms positive community responses to lowering risk factors and strengthening protective factors. An extensive library of papers published in peer reviewed journals is available at has proven that an evidence-based approach to adolescent substance use prevention works.


We require a benchmark of where things are in terms of risk and protective factors and evidence has shown this is the age group that works the best. We learn from the survey of grade 10 students. The research shows that once you know where the risk factors are in your community you can take steps to improve outcomes for kids that are currently in lower grades. In 5 years the grade 10 student we survey will have been in grade 5 when the first survey was performed. We will be able to quantitatively measure how much our communities have improved over the 5 years.
The survey addresses risk and protective factors that are key to 4 areas of youth influence – Family, Peers, School and Leisure Time.
The schools are where the surveys will be done – in grade 10 classes. When the analyzed data results are received back to Lanark County and Smiths Falls all the school information will go to the schools and municipal information will go to the municipalities. Collaboration by all stakeholders will decide on a course of action suitable to each community.
Parents always have been, and always will be the most important influence in a child’s life. Parents are encouraged to support the surveys by granting permission for their child to participate. The surveys are anonymous. Parents also have a huge role in raising protective factors as 25% of a youth’s sphere of influence is their family. Interestingly Planet Youth research has shown it is not just about quality time you spend with your kids; it IS about quantity of time.
The anonymous surveys are an opportunity for youth to have their voice heard. They need to be open and receptive to the process and answer the questions as honestly as possible. Once the survey results are in our Youth will be part of the consultation process to implement positive action.


Yes it is all-inclusive and for everyone. The whole community benefits with increased safety and well-being.

Anyone who works in health, education, recreation. Anyone who has children, has grandchildren, knows children, works with children. Anyone who employs youth, sells to youth, teaches youth. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker … the community.


That was a part of the solution in Iceland because one of their risk factors was drunk and disorderly youth filling the streets of downtown Reykjavík. It is up to our communities what interventions we want to implement.
  • They are the ones doing the surveys. It is their voice that determines where our community is in terms of risk and protective factors.
  • Once the survey process is started and results are forthcoming it will be up to individual communities to include their Youth in the solution process.

A healthy (community) is one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing to their maximum potential.

(Hancock and Duhl, 19862)

Our community as a whole becomes stronger, healthier and supportive by working together. Using an evidence-based approach to pinpoint what physical and social environments our community needs to strengthen will save time and money. Prevention methods are really about creating an environment where everyone feels safe, cared for and valued. That is a healthy community. People who grow up in a healthy community are more likely to become healthy and contributing adults.

  • Become informed.
  • Sign up for our newsletter
  • Contact your local MDS committee
  • Talk to your Mayor and councillors
  • Talk to your friends – spread the word
  • Ask questions – Email us at
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