A 28 member multi-disciplinary committee called SAY (Support and Action to help our Youth) has been formed in Harbour Breton to help the community’s youth make better lifestyle choices. The committee was formed following a meeting in November 2010 with CYN board and staff, Mayor Skinner and his councillors, the RCMP, members of school councils and youth.
Marie Bungay, the coordinator of the Harbour Breton CYN and Bernetta Delaney, the principal of King Academy, are co-chairs of the committee which also aims to educate parents, and the community, about the abuse of alcohol and drugs among the community’s teen population.
Bungay said that the CYN staff has many concerns regarding the prevalence of drugs and alcohol use among youth in the community. This concern is based on a number of reported incidents and from youth expressing their concerns about friends and their peers.
Bungay said, “Following the meeting in November everyone agreed, without hesitation, that a committee needed to be formed to take action to help youth and to educate parents and the community, in general. We need to take a serious look at the level of acceptance of alcohol and drug use in our community and ask ourselves what we can do collectively, as residents, to make it socially unacceptable.”
According to SAY, there have been reports of pharm parties taking place in the community. Pharm is short for pharmaceuticals and these parties have the potential to cause serious harm to the lives of youth who make the decision to consume a variety of prescription drugs available at these parties.
Apparently, youth take these drugs right from the medicine cabinet at home. Upon arriving at the party each youth will then make a contribution to a bowl where you can find a trial mix of prescription drugs.
Because these drugs are free they are handed out like snacks.
Bungay said that SAY hopes to be a catalyst for change by taking a proactive community approach that will make a difference for teens and parents.
She said that it’s important for parents to be actively involved with assisting SAY to help teens make better lifestyle choices.
Bungay said, “The committee plans to offer education and support for parents/guardians which will, in turn, offer support for youth. There is no greater support system than one that can come from the home so it’s important that parents be on side with this committee.
“The saying that it takes a village to raise a child is very true in some cases. We need to think about prevention and to be effective in this regard will require education and communication. We need to offer ways to build self-esteem and confidence and to enable youth to stand on their own two feet, take a stand and to not be afraid despite what peer pressure they are facing.”
Bernetta Delaney said that the committee wants to reach out to the entire community to let everyone know what is happening with some of the youth with regards to drug abuse.
Delaney said, “From an educational perspective we can reach all the students at King Academy, and we can do our part to prevent teens from making the wrong decisions.
“As educators we can help teens develop positive self-esteem and help them develop self confidence.
“We need to make the students realize that they count as individuals and they don’t need to take drugs or consume alcohol in order to fit in. This is all bout caring about our students and our community.”
Delaney said that the committee plans to use HBTV, the local newspaper and the local community channel to keep parents aware of SAY programs and activities.
Colby Whittle, a Level 11 student at King Academy, is one of the youth members on the SAY Committee. Whittle said that the committee is needed for two special reasons.
He said, “I think we need to make people aware of the impact of drugs on our community and how it is affecting some of the youth. In addition, we need to let young people who may be taking drugs realize that there are people they can reach out to for help.”