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AWAKE

Given the prevalence of youth using substances to cope with stress today, YouthSpeak is excited to, once again, provide its 8th annual AWAKE, youth drug awareness conference at Valleyview Alliance Church, Newmarket for grade 9 and 10 students in York Region. As a local event, Newmarket schools attend such as Newmarket High, Huron Heights, and Sir William Mulock.

AWAKE brings in various community resources such as the York Region Police, 360 Kids and Public Health to give students an opportunity to learn about various services in the area and a familiar face they can turn to if they are struggling.

Youth Speakers kick off the day sharing their stories of drug abuse and healthy coping tools. Addictions Services of York Region puts on an educational presentation which provides information on what they do as an agency and education surrounding drug use.

The second half of the day is filled with various workshops for students to participate in. These workshops range from knitting and drawing, to martial arts and break dancing. The purpose of these workshops is to engage students in positive activities which teach them positive coping tools and alternatives to unsafe activities.

The activities of the day give youth the opportunity to develop leadership skills and build rapport with adult role models such as police, teachers and youth counsellors.

Students who can benefit most from this day are selected by their teachers and given the opportunity to participate in a fun, educational day away from the stresses of school.

Statistics show that “early identification leads to better health outcomes, improved school attendance, contributions to society, cost-savings to health-care, justice and social service systems.” Open Minds, Healthy Minds (Ontario’s Mental Health Strategy). Research shows that youth-to-youth, interactive and engaging approach is the most effective way to reach them.

Funded by Newmarket, ON (January 2018)