Sometimes it takes an entire community to make a difference. That's the approach being taken to prevent risky youth behaviour in Williams Lake and Anahim Lake, two of only 500 communities across the globe taking part in the Communities That Care program (CTC).
Initially funded as a pilot project by the Ministry of Children and Family Development in 2009 in response to a spike in serious crime by youth, the program has just received $80,000 from the ministry so it can continue to make a positive difference in both communities.
Communities That Care brings together community members to understand and address the issues faced by their youth such as substance abuse, violence and teen pregnancy. Communities are then able to focus on prevention efforts and target resources so they can be most effective.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development, along with the Ministry of Health, the City of Williams Lake, the community of Anahim Lake, local schools, Aboriginal leaders, Williams Lake RCMP and community agencies, have worked together to identify and understand the risk factors affecting youth in these communities.
A report surveying more than 1,200 youth in 2009 included several key findings:
- A significant number of students are struggling with school.
- There are serious concerns about the early age at which young people experiment with and begin using alcohol on a regular basis.
- The community has high levels of tolerance toward anti-social behaviour.
As a result of the challenges identified, two evidence-based programs - Positive Outcomes and Roots of Empathy - were implemented in schools in the fall of 2010 and expanded to more schools in 2011. With funding in place for the year ahead, these programs will benefit more than 1,600 youth.
Minister Mary McNeil recently visited Williams Lake to meet with some of the other partners in the Communities That Care program. The Williams Lake and Anahim Lake program is one of two CTC programs funded by the ministry in B.C. The program has also been implemented in the Sea-to-Sky region.
Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"The Communities That Care program is a great example of how governments and communities can work together to ensure that vulnerable children and youth grow up in a healthy and safe environment. These collaborative, community-based approaches are what make real differences in communities."
Donna Barnett, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA -
"The CTC program has brought everyone together to support young people to reach their potential. I'm proud of the work being done by all of the dedicated partners in Williams Lake and Anahim Lake."
Kerry Cook, mayor of
"I am so pleased that Minister McNeil was able to recently visit us in Williams Lake and see first-hand the positive results of the wonderful work Communities That Care performs, and the collaborative approach that leads to successful outcomes."
Will Van Osch, Cariboo-Chilcotin board of education chair -
"The school district is starting to see some reduction in high-risk behaviour and is encouraged with the level of community commitment to improve the prospects for youth in the district. The funding support received from the provincial government will help continue to build a better future for our youth."
Peter Bowman, principal of Sxoxomic Community School -
"The teachers use Positive Action at the beginning of the school day and they've noticed that it really focuses and grounds the kids. They actually have more instructional time in the classroom because they're spending less time on managing behaviour."
Warren Brown, Williams Lake RCMP inspector -
"One of the greatest outcomes to date of the CTC program, in addition to creating a positive learning and social environment for youth, is the strengthened and reinforced relationships amongst the community stakeholders. The program model has encouraged the community 'contributors' to speak openly, share information and ideas, and trust each others' opinions and input. This engagement has also benefitted other committees and projects."
- CTC is a community-based, prevention-focused approach to promoting positive, healthy behaviour among youth while understanding the root causes of negative behaviour.
- CTC focuses on bringing the community together to address six problem behaviours among youth:
- Substance abuse
- Teen pregnancy
- School drop out
- Depression and anxiety
- The CTC model was developed at the University of Washington by the Social Development Research Group.
- It promotes a data-driven approach to decision making about addressing risk factors that increase the likelihood that youth will be involved in problem behaviour.
- The program is tailored to the needs, issues and resources of each community.
Communities That Care Community Profile Report: http://www.williamslake.ca/index.asp?p=1833
Positive Action Program: http://www.positiveaction.net/
Roots of Empathy Program: http://www.rootsofempathy.org/
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development
City of Williams Lake
Warren Brown, Inspector
Williams Lake RCMP