A significant percentage of Squamish youth believe drug and alcohol use is acceptable, according to results from the 2005 Squamish Youth Survey, and a community working group will focus on programs to discourage this perception.
"We have seen some new risk factor themes arise in the 2005 data around perceived availability of drugs and parental attitudes," said Christine Buttkus of Communities that Care (CTC).
"The good news is we are showing improvement and are coming closer to the norm, but there is still a continued need to increase protective factors and decrease risk factors to meet the targets set for our community."
The CTC and a broad range of community stakeholders are in their sixth year of September to June monthly meetings in attempts to identify where the community needs help. Two programs have so far been introduced into Squamish families including the Strengthening Families program for children 6 to 12 and their parents, and the High Scope approach to education, currently used in two Squamish pre-schools.
The programs provide children with protective factors, such as social skills, as ways to buffer them against the presence of risky pressures in the community, and the results have been positive, said Buttkus.
The CTC is working on two new programs to address the issue of norms favourable toward alcohol and drug use. The Municipal Alcohol Policy and the Social Marketing Campaign will help raise awareness on ways residents can set positive examples for the local youth.
"Our goal is to reduce the community level risk factors and increase the protective factors that contribute to five youth health and behaviour problems: teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, delinquency, violence and school drop out," said Buttkus.
Interested community members are welcome to get more information by visiting the CTC website at www.ctcsquamish.com.