L.E.A.D., Leadership and Engagement About Drugs
Addiction Services with the Cape Breton District Health Authority has partnered with the Cape Breton Victoria-Regional School Board (CBVRSB) to develop, implement, and evaluate a substance abuse prevention peer leadership project that strengthens the capacity of high school students to take action and promote activities that aim to prevent, delay onset, reduce frequency of use, and/or the progression of substance use among junior and senior high school students as well as positively affecting the social and academic environments of their own schools and communities. The project also allows students to take action on the determinants of illicit drug use through community involvement while supporting a number of Department of Education curriculum outcomes at both the senior and junior high school levels. The peer leadership program focuses on one or more of the following approaches:
- Focus on staying healthy and avoiding substance use and substance use problems through awareness & educational activities.
- Focus on providing positive alternatives without any mention of substance use by using "pro-social" activities.
- Focus on aspects of the social environment in the school and community that may hinder student health by giving attention to policies and "ways of doing things".
The project is guided by evidence-supported literature and the best available data on the nature and extent of substance use in the region. Illicit substance use is viewed as one of several problem behaviours (along with bullying, problem gambling, academic concerns, and sexual health, etc) that often arise from common risk factors (e.g. normal adolescent development, family issues, mental health challenges, and school/social problems) and have been shown to be best addressed by building protective factors among youth.