Substance abuse prevention team extended

FORT FRANCES—The Rainy River District Substance Abuse Prevention Team’s funding at the provincial level was set to expire at the end of March, but it has been extended for an additional year.
“It’s great news because now we can make plans for the coming year,” said SAPT co-ordinator Hugh Dennis.
He explained the program and funding will be reviewed in March, 2009 to determine what will happen beyond that time.
“This year we’re going to have a large focus on youth,” Dennis noted, citing the focus will be both from an education awareness perspective and an activity assistance perspective.
With regards to education awareness, presentations will continue to be given to youths across the district.
Dennis plans to speak to Grades 7/8 students at Robert Moore School in the near future, and recently spoke to students at the Seven Generations Education Institute.
The P.A.R.T.Y. program (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth), which began in November with Grade 10 students at Fort Frances High School, will continue in the coming year, as well as expand to the high schools in Rainy River and Atikokan.
The day-long program focuses on injury prevention and making smart choices, and shows teens what it’s like to live as an injury survivor.
The SAPT also will be partnering with the Gizhewaasiziwin Health Access Centre to bring in two sets of speakers.
The first, Don Young and Brian Brattengeier, who addressed students here last April, will be back on March 27 to talk about drug enforcement.
The second set will be three young women who are recovering from drug addictions. They’ll speak to high school students at Fort Frances, Atikokan, and Rainy River in April.
“They’ll talk about drugs and about being women,” Dennis explained, adding it will be targeted at young women but all students will attend the presentation.
“Then we hope to have an opportunity for the three women to speak just to the young women there.”
As well, Dennis noted the SAPT again will sponsor the HEROES program—an injury prevention program put on by RiskWatch.
It is a program they try to bring into area high schools every four years so all students get the message. It is generally a multimedia presentation where a victim speaks to the audience.
In terms of plans for activity assistance in the community, Dennis indicated the SAPT will continue to make presentations at parent/teacher nights and special events, such as fairs and fishing tournaments.
It also will keep working with the Parents Against Illicit Narcotics (PAIN) group, being involved in events like seniors’ fairs and the medicine cabinet clean-out, and would like to help fund the high school “chem-free” graduation parties.
Dennis noted the student profiling project will be expanded to include testimonials on local television, as well as in the newspapers and on the radio.
He said he’d also like to try a new activity with students this year called a “photo voice project,” noting all three high schools from the district have expressed interest in participating.
A group of students would be given digital cameras and asked a certain question, which would be answered through photographs.
Dennis explained if students say they turn to drugs because they are bored, then he could ask “Why are you bored?” and see what answers he receives.
“There may be things that could be done within the community to help youth,” he remarked. “And we could get the message of young people by using this tool. . . .
“The photos could be used as a way to talk to policy-makers.
“It will involve the whole community—I’m excited,” Dennis enthused. “I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”
For more information about any of the initiatives of the Rainy River District Substance Abuse Prevention Team, contact Dennis at 274-9827.
(Fort Frances Times)