Half-million dollars announced for youth-led drug use prevention initiative

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Looking over the Youth Truth Matters toolkit at the Tri-County Women’s Centre (from left): Bernadette MacDonald, the centre’s executive director, and youth leaders Michaela Smith, Cameron Albright and Ashley White.

ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO

The federal government is providing over $500,000 for a project that will help prevent illicit drug use among youth in Yarmouth and the surrounding area.

The project, Youth Truth Matters, emphasizes a youth-led approach to drug use prevention and involves youth-led presentations.

West Nova MP Greg Kerr announced the funding Tuesday, June 24, on behalf of Health Minister Rona Ambrose.

The announcement was made at the Tri-County Women’s Centre, where Bernadette MacDonald, the centre’s executive director, said the current project builds on a previous one “where we worked with over 100 youth, both from TCRSB and CSAP schools, in grades 9-12, and community youth.”

Under the supervision and guidance of project staff, the youth developed their leadership skills talking about the harm of illicit drug use and worked with project staff to compile a “toolkit” that is available in French and English, MacDonald said.

“Our current project will be working with youth leaders in grades 8-12 to continue to expand the number of youth leaders,” she said. “We will be enhancing the toolkit to include some of the broader social issues that can impact a ‘drug culture’ in our youth. We will be working with the youth leaders to reach grades 5-7 students and continuing to organize presentations and events in both schools and community.”

In their presentations to the younger students, she said, the youth leaders will talk about their role as leaders, what they have gotten out of being involved, why they think it’s important, among other things.

 “We are working on a strong social media/web presence to promote our resources and document our activities of engaging with youth and community on this important topic,” MacDonald said.

She expressed appreciation for Health Canada’s commitment to the program, saying it will, among other things, “enable us to improve and sustain community-based practices on drug use prevention across the tri-counties.”

Said Kerr, “I am pleased by the level of support the government of Canada has shown for the Tri-County Women’s Centre. The centre provides important services to the area and I commend them on this project directed at youth.”

 

 

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