An initiative to keep youth engaged and informed about substance abuse throughout their entire education recently started in Castlegar.
Community Prevention Education Continuum (CPEC) is a program that takes place in communities around B.C. as a partnership between the RCMP and community stakeholders.
By engaging students in various stages throughout their education, the goal is to help children develop certain assets such as boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time and commitment to learning.
“We want our children to be safe, happy and healthy,” RCMP Cpl. Marty Kooiman told Castlegar City Council on Monday night.
He said the programs for the younger kids are based on prevention, such as the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, but as they get older, other methods are introduced.
A Grade 12 program (which Kooiman said is in the process of being moved down to Grade 6) is “home grown cash” where students are taken to a local bank and shown the real cost of substance abuse, such as how much money would be spent on cigarettes if they started smoking at the age of 13.
In Grades 9 to 12, the programs focus on the consequences of decisions, like drinking and driving.
“We spell out the really horrendous things that can happen to you,” Kooiman said.
Currently, there are gaps in the program between Grades 6 to 8, so they’re working on changing that, he said.
Since being posted in Castlegar seven years ago, Kooiman said he has noticed extreme differences in the behaviour of the older kids, namely around graduation time.
For example, he said there used to be multiple bush parties celebrating grad, but with the introduction of dry grad and similar activities, such incidents have gone way down.
“Kids understand they don’t want to mar their graduation by someone dying or getting hurt,” he said.
Kooiman said one of the main points he presented to city council was because he expects stakeholders in the community that want to get involved with the program will come to council requesting funding in the coming months.