LifeSkills® Training (LST) Program

Program snapshot

Age group: Late childhood (7-11); Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Placed out-of-home; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; Community-based setting; School-based

Location: Alberta; Manitoba; Saskatchewan

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The LifeSkills® Training (LST) program is a research-validated substance abuse prevention program developed over 30 years ago by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, a leading expert in substance abuse prevention and health behaviour in the United States. The LST program is a school-based prevention program that targets early drug and alcohol use by youth and adolescents.


The main goals of the LST program are to prevent substance use among youth and adolescents and to promote healthy alternatives to risky behaviour (including general delinquency and violence) through activities designed to:

  • Teach the skills necessary to resist social pressures to smoke, drink, and use drugs;
  • Develop a positive self-image and self-confidence, and build skills to cope effectively with anxiety; and
  • Enhance cognitive and behavioural competency to reduce and prevent a variety of health risk behaviours.


The appropriate clientele for the LST program is boys and girls (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) in elementary, middle/junior, and high schools who display behavioural problems at an early age, hostility, aggression and a deficit in social skills, use drugs/alcohol, and/or have been involved with the law or child services at a young age.

The main methods of recruiting participants and promoting program activities are through school staff, school announcements, child services, community leaders and partners, posters/leaflets, and word of mouth.

Core Components

The LST program is typically delivered by classroom teachers, counsellors, peer leaders, and health professionals. It can be taught either on an intensive schedule (two to three times a week), or on a more extended schedule (once a week) until the program is complete. The main LST programs are:

  • Elementary school program: 8 class sessions per year across all three years of upper elementary school;
  • Middle school program: Designed to be taught in sequence over three years in either middle or junior high school. The first year of the program has 15 class sessions of 45 minutes each (plus 3 optional violence prevention sessions) followed by 10 sessions in the second year and 5 in the third year;
  • High school program: 10 class sessions typically taught in one year and that can be delivered alone or as a maintenance program in combination with other LST programs;
  • Transitions program: 6 class sessions typically taught in one year and that can be delivered alone or as a maintenance program in combination with other LST programs; and
  • Parent program: Designed to help parents strengthen communication with their children.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Some experience delivering child and family programming, culturally knowledgeable about the participant population, and the commitment of management and support of partners (especially schools). Hiring the appropriate staff is critical for the success of the program (education, experience, cultural competence, and personality traits).
  • Partnerships: Organizations should partner with schools (school administrators and teachers), the health and justice sectors, the business community, and community-based organizations.
  • Training and technical assistance: Assistance with training and technical support is provided by National Health Promotion Associates.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Age-appropriate curriculum materials are available for each group. Planning workbooks, evaluation tools, fidelity checklists, curriculum alignment tools and classroom assessments are available from the program developer. 

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Model
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Effective (more than one study)
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: 3.9 - 4.0
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Top Tier

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

In total, from 2009 to 2014, 6 organizations were supported by Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy to implement the LST program. 

Programs are listed alphabetically:Footnote1

  • It Takes a Whole Community to Raise a Child (Ben Calf Robe Society) (Alberta) (2010-2014) (process and outcome evaluation completed)
  • Litte Red River Crime Prevention Project 106 B (also known as the Capturing Our Youth) (Paskwawaskihk Administration) (Saskatchewan) (2009-2012) (process evaluation completed)
  • Okanese Youth Lifeskills Program (Okanese First Nation No. 82) (Saskatchewan) (2010-2013) (process evaluation completed)
  • Pelican Narrows Life Skills Training Project (Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation) (Saskatchewan) (2009-2012) (process evaluation completed)
  • Reclaiming Our Own Spirit (Creating Hope Society of Alberta) (Alberta) (2009-2013) (process evaluation completed)
  • Roots and Wings (West Region Child and Family Services) (Manitoba) (2010-2013) (process evaluation completed)

In the 2009/10 school year, Healthy Child Manitoba, in partnership with Manitoba Justice and Manitoba Education, launched a pilot LST program in 30 grade three classrooms across the province.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of the LST program delivered in Edmonton (Alberta) was conducted between 2011-2014 by R. A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. A mixed design with pre/post measures and a matched comparison group was used in the completion of this evaluation. The goal was to assess whether modified LST programming could achieve desired outcomes within an Aboriginal urban population in Canada.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Youth participants displayed positive gains in self-management skills, social skills, and substance-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours. Evidence was also found that the LST program was successful in preventing the onset of substance use and reducing existing substance use; and
  • Aboriginal youth in the LST program demonstrated increased knowledge of Aboriginal culture, greater affiliation with their cultural backgrounds, and increased pride in their culture.

For more information, refer to the National Crime Prevention Centre’s (2014) publication.

Cost Information

In 2014, as part of R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd.’s outcome evaluation study, it was found that the average cost per participant in the LST program was $6,313 CAD.


National Crime Prevention Centre. (2014). LifeSkills Training (LST) Program. Crime Prevention in Action. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from:

R. A. Malatest & Associates. (2014). Evaluation of the Life Skills Training Program. Final Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

Rosario G. (2015). Results from the LifeSkills Training (LST) Program. Evaluation Summary. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada.  Available from: 

For more information on this program, contact:

National Health Promotion Associates
711 Westchester Avenue
White Plains, New York 10604
Telephone: (914) 421-2525

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-27
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
  1. 1

    For specific information about each replication of the program, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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