The West Shore RCMP is looking for motivated volunteers to help keep young people on the right track and away from substance abuse.
The detachment is rolling out its Community Prevention Education Continuum program (CPEC), which involves community members talking to high school students about making wise choices.
“We’re looking for great people willing to donate a bit of time,” said RCMP Cpl. Scott Hilderley, the CPEC program co-ordinator. “If we get 50 people, we’ll find 50 ways for people to help.”
Hilderley stressed that almost anyone from any walk of life can help –– a banker could talk to kids about economics and budgeting, a fitness store owner could talk about the benefits of exercise and health. It’s not about endlessly hammering on the anti-drug and alcohol message, he said, but focusing on healthy decision-making, which reduces risky behaviour among teens.
“In high school kids are presented with peer pressure. It’s a struggle to resist,” Hilderley said. “But instead of focusing on what is negative, we’re focusing on what is positive. It’s all geared to maximize the potential of of youth. It’s about developing healthy communities.”
The CPEC program is also meant as a continuation the long-running DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program offered to elementary students throughout the province. That consistent anti-drug messaging can become erratic when students enter middle and high school, Hilderley said.
RCMP rolled out CPEC in the East Kootenay in 2005, and saw a measurable decrease in drug and alcohol abuse among teens, according to surveys. West Shore detachment commander Insp. Mark Fisher, who worked in the area at the time, said the program helped develop better communication between officers and community organizations.
“We’ve seen it work elsewhere in the country,” Fisher said. “In the Kootenays, it was a big help for the detachment to get engaged with all age groups.”
Some youth might also respond better to anti-drug messaging delivered by people other than police officers. Segments of youth only interact with police in negative way, Hilderley noted, such as when a parent gets arrested.
“Kids might not be able to connect with police, but they might connect with a hockey player or a business man,” Fisher said.
CPEC is volunteer based and is not looking for monetary donations. People not comfortable with public speaking can also help with the program.
People interested in participating with the CPEC program or want to find out more can contact Hilderley at 250-380-6295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.