"Empowering My Life!" Prevention Project
Helping at-risk Youth Engage in Healthier Lifestyle
"Ma vie, j'en fais mon affaire !", or "Empowering my Life", is a project destined to help at-risk youth engage in healthier lifestyle and behaviors through the development of various skills and abilities, i.e. self esteem, anger management, safer sexual practices and through a better knowledge of substance abuse and blood borne infections related issues.
250 young people, age 18-25, stemming from Quebec large cities are participating to a residential prevention program intended to teach alcohol and substance abuse related negative consequences on health, and to promote positive social integration in the prospect of addiction prevention and health promotion.
The project consists of a 5 to 6-day stay in nature with structured activities dedicated to increase knowledge on the negative consequences of drugs and alcohol use, and on the various, substance abuse related, cultural and social issues.
Prevention workshops are specifically intended to break the myth of recreational, harmless use of cannabis and synthetic drugs.
By the same token, program’s counselors have to take advantage of the participants’ responsiveness – all of them entered the program on a volunteer basis – to identify possible protection factors likely to help maintain or gain abstinence, such as the presence of positive role models in the individuals’ circle of friends or family, or their commitment in creative/artistic activities.
The program’s counselors are also dedicated to identify key persons able to engage in positive leaderships and spread accurate prevention messages after the program. A specific tool has been prepared with identified resources; it is now utilized on the ground by identified leaders under street workers supervision.
The Refuge des Jeunes, Bon Dieu dans la Rue, Spectre de Rue (TAPAJ program) and the Native Friendship Center of Montreal are project partners. Other partners from cultural communities, are needed.
An appropriate follow-up is organized at every stage and at the end of the project. Outcomes results are given through the Dianova Network’s various web sites and newsletters, and through partners’ and other participants’ communication means.
The project will rejoin 250 at-risk youth (young adults, young natives living out of reserves, and youths stemming from other cultural communities), recruited through several community-based partner organizations in continuous contact with the youths. Partners will help follow the individuals during the program implementation and after it ends.
“Ma vie, j’en fais mon affaire-Empowering My Life" project will count on the participation of some of the youths, identified as leaders, in the objective of spreading positive life habits, with the help and supervision of counselors and street workers.
The participants’ needs and expectancies will be assessed according to their own interests and a prevention toolkit will be designed with their cooperation. The activities proposed during stay will help provide the participants with an order of priorities, depending on the benefits expected in terms of real changes in the youth’s behavior.
At the end of project, participants will be invited to spread selected messages in their family and friends circles. We expect then an imitation effect towards life habits likely to enhance protection factors when confronted to addictions.