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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Attention Parents! Are You Ready to P.A.R.T.Y.?

Courtnay Epp
Courtnay Epp, Alberta Health Services

With grad season and summer around the corner, it’s important to consider the important decisions that your children may be faced with in regards to risk this summer. From the swimming pool to the highway, elements of risk are everywhere. The P.A.R.T.Y. Program aims to empower parents to talk to their children about making smart decisions and the unwanted consequences that often follow risk-taking.

What is the P.A.R.T.Y. Program? P.A.R.T.Y. stands for Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth. It was started at the Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto in 1986 and also has founding roots in Calgary. Since its development, it has grown into a worldwide program and has been delivered to over one million young people. P.A.R.T.Y. promotes injury prevention through reality-based education. Hands-on activities create active learning opportunities that students will remember forever. According to P.A.R.T.Y. Program Headquarters, “P.A.R.T.Y. is about prevention and awareness. It's about learning through vivid and emotional experience. It’s about learning from real people and their very real experiences. Students who participate in the P.A.R.T.Y. Program leave knowing better and doing better.”

In the P.A.R.T.Y. program we introduce students to the idea of their “stupid line.” We acknowledge that life is full of risks; even walking across the street carries some level of risk. By reflecting what risks you are willing to take and what risks are past your personal “stupid line,” you can help prepare for situations where you may not be thinking clearly due to peer pressure and other influences. Preparing for these situations ahead of time is the key. Along with the stupid line, we teach the students about the Smart Risk Messages: Look First, Wear the Gear, Get Trained, Buckle Up, Drive Sober and Seek Help. We give the students practical ways to incorporate these messages into everyday life, avoiding and minimizing risk.

Why the need for such a program? According to a report released by Injury Alberta, injuries are the number one killer of Albertans under the age of 45 (2011). In Alberta in 2008, 77 per cent of deaths of those aged 15-24 were due to injury. We need to spread the message that these deaths and injuries are preventable and there is a part everyone can play in reducing injuries.

So, if you’re wondering how you can help, the answer is simple. Talk to your kids and encourage them to seek help through you or another trusted adult when they are in over their heads. Have an honest conversation about taking smart risks and the smart-risk messages. Talk to your kids about the consequences of their behaviour. Acknowledge that life is full of risks but its how we navigate those risks that count. Injuries can be prevented. You can find tips on having these important conversations by visiting www.partyprogram.com.

In the South Zone, P.A.R.T.Y. Program is currently held in Medicine Hat and surrounding area, Taber and surrounding area, Fort Macleod and Crowsnest Pass. Grade 9 students in these areas are invited to the P.A.R.T.Y. Program where they receive these preventative messages.

More information is also available at www.partyprogram.org.

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