Brief Summaries - Substance Abuse Prevention Projects - British Columbia


When examining the pathways of young people, it has been established that early, persistent delinquent behaviour accompanied by substance abuse, is a strong predictor of adult criminal behaviour. When combined with increases in the rates of self-reported problem use of illegal substances and higher levels of acceptance of drug use among youth, concerns from a crime prevention perspective are warranted. (for more information, see

As a result of these linkages, the NCPC supports projects that include addressing and preventing substance abuse.

The following brief project descriptions provide information on some of the projects funded by the NCPC in British Columbia between 2009-2014 that, to varying degrees, worked to prevent substance abuse as a risk factor for criminal behaviour.

These projects may help inspire those concerned about these issues and provide a way to explore approaches to prevention that will be a good fit in communities.

Organization: Abbotsford Community Service
Project Title: Abbotsford Youth Crime Prevention Project
Duration: April 01, 2009 – March 31, 2012

This project was delivered in Abbotsford, British Columbia, to address issues of youth gangs and related crimes, including theft, drug trafficking, assaults, property crime and substance abuse. The Abbotsford Youth Crime Prevention Project (AYCP) had wraparound, outreach and mentorship components and incorporated community and family engagement. The wraparound components included the development of a highly individualized care plan for each participant. The outreach services included meeting youth's basic needs, listening to youth, reality check-ins, educational support and life-skill instruction. The mentoring component matched youth with mentors who engaged them in positive activities such as sports, tutoring, life skills, recreation and social events. The community component implemented strategies to increase the interaction of youth with others in the community. It also supported community members in implementing informal social control efforts that helped youth refrain from criminal and gang involvement. An intake assessment led to an individual profile for each youth and the identification of specific strength-based, client-centered interventions designed to address specific risk and protective factors. Through the Wrapping Abbotsford Youth with Support (WAYS) program and the South Asian Community Resource Office (SACRO) program, the project targeted street entrenched and/or sexually exploited youth who were at risk of engaging in criminal and gang activities, as well as Indo-Canadian youth who were engaged in, or at-risk of engaging in criminal and gang activities. The age of entry to the program was between 13 and 19 years.

For a more detailed summary of this project, please visit:

Abbotsford Community Service
2420 Montrose Avenue
Abbotsford, BC
V2S 3S9
Tel: 604-859-7681
Fax: 604-859-6334

Organization: Agassiz-Harrison Community Service
Project Title: Agassiz Youth Inclusion Programme
Duration: September 1, 2009 – October 31, 2014

This project is implementing the Youth Inclusion Program (YIP), which focuses on providing interventions for youth living in high-risk neighbourhoods and identified as most at-risk of offending.

The Agassiz YIP provides a safe place for youth to learn new skills, take part in pro-social activities with others, receive help with their education and obtain information and referrals to services to meet their needs. Participants are between the ages of 8 and 18 years. Each participant is given an individual assessment, and this leads to the development of a care plan that is designed to address their specific risk and protective factors. The plan includes family engagement and other services, such as alcohol and drug counseling, individual and family counseling, health and nutrition education, job skills training, educational support, cultural skills/awareness training, and recreational activities.

For more information on the Youth Inclusion Program, please visit:

Agassiz-Harrison Community Services
P.O. Box 564
Agassiz, BC
V0M 1A0
Tel: 604-796-2585
Fax: 604-796-2517

Organization: College of New Caledonia
Project Title: Youth Outreach Program
Duration: September 2, 2008 – July 11, 2011

The main goal of the Youth Outreach Program project was to reduce youth crime among at-risk Aboriginal youth 13-18 years of age. The project offered an intensive outreach and support program for primarily Aboriginal youth who were involved in crime-related activities and displayed the behaviours and characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The project also worked with youth who were not yet involved in the criminal justice system but used alcohol and illicit drugs and were exhibiting violent and destructive behaviour.

The project used a comprehensive, individualized wraparound service approach. Each participant went through an assessment that led to the development of a care plan designed to address specific risk and protective factors. Activities provided included support counseling, mentorship, family activities/workshops, life and social skills development training through workshops and group sessions (i.e. cooking skills, computer skills, literacy/study skills, employment skills, self esteem, resistance to peer pressure, substance use/abuse, etc.), and community volunteer opportunities for participants.

College of New Caledonia
Box 5000
Burns Lake, BC
V0J 1E0
Tel.: 250-692-1700
Fax: 250-692-1750

Organization: McCreary Centre Society
Project Title: Aboriginal Next Steps II: Aboriginal Youth Getting Busy in theCommunity
Duration: October 1, 2007 – December 30, 2009

This project engaged approximately 270 Aboriginal youth between 13-17 years of age in nine BC communities where earlier research identified substance use as high in comparison to other BC communities. A key component of the project was a series of workshops that focused on building protective factors associated with decreasing substance use. These workshops were co-facilitated by Aboriginal youth coordinators. A noticeable outcome of the project was the increased level of youth participation in community engagement. Through their work in planning and implementing the project, the youth developed an increased enthusiasm to engage productively in their communities and to form connections with other people and organizations in order to assist in reducing their risks of escalating substance use.

According to the project evaluation, most youth participants who had engaged in risky behaviours indicated that participation in the project helped reduce their substance use (92% of youth), criminal behaviour (92%), thoughts about suicide (100%), and self-harmful behaviour (100%). The majority of youth participants reported that their involvement helped increase their community connectedness (69% of youth), peer relationships (87%), and school connectedness (63%). Most youth (60%) also reported that their involvement helped enhance their family relationships. In addition, youth also reported improvements in their self-esteem (81%), a strong sense of meaning from the activities they engaged in (81%), and hope for their future (94%).

McCreary Centre Society
3552 East Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
V5K 2A7
Tel: 604-291-1996, Ext. 225
Fax: 604-291-7308

Organization: Smithers Community Service Association
Project Title: Youth Empowerment Program
Duration: August 1, 2009 - October 31, 2014

This project is implementing the Youth Inclusion Program (YIP) focused on providing interventions for youth living in high-risk neighbourhoods and identified as most at-risk of offending.

The project provides a safe place for youth to learn new skills, take part in pro-social activities with others, get help with their education and receive information and referrals to services that meet their needs. The project includes components that address Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Each year, the project will focus on fifty 13-18 year old Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth who are at risk of criminal involvement, including substance use-related crime. Although the majority of the youth have not been formally diagnosed, most exhibit behaviours that could be associated with FASD and repeat trauma, including impulsivity, anti-social and aggressive behaviour, and high levels of risk-taking behaviour.

Participants undergo an intensive assessment leading to the development of individual and family plans designed to address specific risk and protective factors. The plans include alcohol and drug counselling, individual and family counseling, health and nutrition education, job skills training, educational support, cultural skills/awareness training, and recreational activities. Consistent with the YIP model, mentoring by positive adult role models will also be a component of the project.

For more information on the Youth Inclusion Program, please visit

Smithers Community Services Association
3815-B Railway Ave (Box 3759)
Smithers, BC
V0J 2N0
Tel: 250-847-9515
Fax: 250-847-3712

Organization: Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA)
Project Title: Aboriginal Youth FIRST (AYF): Sports and Recreation Program for Vancouver Downtown Eastside
Duration: April 1, 2008 – June 30, 2011

The Aboriginal Youth FIRST (Futures in Recreation and Sport Training) program developed and delivered a wide range of sports and recreational opportunities for Aboriginal youth, aged 11-24, who resided in Vancouver's Eastside. Diverse programming was designed to foster leadership among Aboriginal youth, and provide alternatives to street involvement, substance abuse, violence and other anti-social activities. AYF understood the barriers affecting youth participation, and strived to make sports and recreation activities more accessible to those who were not already involved in sports and recreation programs (particularly young women and those who were not active). Programming was offered at different locations throughout the community, in collaboration with youth peer leaders, volunteers, and over 25 community partners.

The goal of Aboriginal Youth FIRST (AYF) was to create a positive environment for youth to excel and learn in areas of leadership and skills-building, while encouraging them to make healthy life choices (such as maintaining good nutrition, positive peer relations, increased physical activity, and developing strong life skills). In particular, AYF strived to support the positive social development of Aboriginal youth by strengthening key resiliencies as identified within the Circle of Courage, such as: belonging, independence/power, mastery/competence, and generosity/virtue. These and other cultural teachings are incorporated throughout all AYF programming.

AYF accomplished its mandate by encouraging leadership development among youth. AYF participants were encouraged to continually develop their skills and take on active peer leadership roles, by helping to develop and deliver weekly sports and recreation programming such as lacrosse, jiu-jitsu, running, and fitness. Participants also achieved certifications and led seasonal and one-time activities such as rock climbing, snowboarding, canoeing, and 'skills-building' spring break and summer day camps. Jiu-jitsu participants learned about anti-violence and de-escalation techniques, and regularly shared their knowledge with other youth and community members through youth-led workshops. AYF also provided certifications in First Aid, Bronze Cross, recreational leadership and group management training, which helped youth pursue employment and leadership opportunities in the sports and recreation field.

By providing accessible, youth-led sports and recreation programming and dynamic leadership opportunities, AYF fostered increased self-esteem, healthy behaviours and positive life choices among Aboriginal youth. These opportunities also encouraged youth to develop positive support networks and contribute meaningfully to their community. Overall, AYF increased resiliencies among Aboriginal youth and decreased the risks of them becoming involved in drug use or other related criminal activity.

Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) 1640 East Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
V5L 1S6
Tel: 604-818-0026 or 604-254-7732

Organization: Merritt Walk of Stars Society
Project Title: Merritt Youth Mural Project (Arts Training Employability Centre)
Duration: May 26, 2008 - March 31, 2011

Merritt Youth Mural Project offered a wraparound program that contributed to the decrease in criminal activities and/or substance abuse among at-risk Aboriginal youth. Throughout the lifecycle, the project reached approximately 450 Aboriginal youth aged 15-24, as well as other youth aged 24-30 in the downtown core of Merritt. The youth were already engaged in or at risk of abusing substances and engaging in or at risk of engaging in criminal activity, drug-related crime and other delinquent anti-social behaviour.

Risk behaviours exhibited by youth were addressed through individual and group assessments, counselling, life skills development, and referrals to professional services, including addiction counselling.

Participants were each assessed at the beginning of the program based on factors such as educational/employment prospects, their lifestyle and the prevalence of substance abuse. This assessment encouraged the development of individualized approaches to support each participant's identified needs and goals. In addition, family members and peers of participants were invited to participate in the project's activities in order to empower them to address their own substance abuse issues and to create an environment of interdependent support.

Merritt Walk of Stars Society
2900 Pooley Avenue
Merritt, BC
V1K 1C1
Tel: 205-315-2450 or 205-378-6416

Organization: Board of Education of School District #36 (Surrey)
Project Title: Wraparound Surrey: A Youth Driven Comprehensive Plan for Gang Violence Prevention
Duration: April 1, 2008 - March 31, 2012

The project was based on the Wraparound Milwaukee model and other successful wraparound models throughout North America. The Surrey Wrap Project blended elements of wraparound models with emerging and best practices for youth gang interventions, and created a response customized to local trends, cultures, and concerns.

The Surrey Wrap Project assessed each youth referred to the program using multiple tools to accurately identify an inventory of individual risk and protective factors. From this inventory, case managers created individual plans for each youth to build on and expanded existing protective factors while reducing and eliminating risk factors. Youth were supported in all five domains of their life: Individual; Family; Peer; School; and Community, and the case management reflected this holistic dimension of the project.

Interventions and support for participating youth were comprehensive and culturally competent, based on these initial assessments. Through community partners and collaboration, youth in the Surrey Wrap Project were provided with highly-coordinated, timely and barrier-free access to pro-social recreation opportunities, individual therapeutic support, family functioning support, employment training, and other services and resources as required until they showed increased resiliency and stability in their lives. The program is continuing with the support of the Surrey School Board and local RCMP.

For a more detailed summary of this project, please visit:

Board of Education of School District #36 (Surrey)
14225 56th Avenue
Surrey, BC
V3X 3A3
Tel: 604-599-7429
Fax: 604-596-6594

Organization: Surrey School District No. 36
Project Title: iR3 (Intervention, Reflect, Refocus and Reintegrate)
Duration: October 1, 2007 – September 30, 2012

This project focused on youth in grades 6 through 8 (11–13 years of age), who were attending a Surrey elementary or high school and facing a first-time suspension for aggressive/violent behaviour and/or the use of drugs or alcohol. The students served their suspension time in a supervised environment with activities designed to increase their personal and social awareness and enhance their educational attainments. The approach offered an immediate and decisive response to anti-social behaviour and addressed the underlying risk factors associated with such behaviour. The intervention took a holistic approach to leadership, mentorship and restoration of self and community. Individual assessments of each participant were undertaken to determine how best to meet their unique needs and how to tailor the intervention accordingly.

The project included a component referred to as “Stay Real”, that provided ongoing support for students who had completed the 'Alternative to Suspension' component. Stay Real ensured that ongoing support was provided to the parents/guardians and siblings of iR3 participants, particularly when it was determined that the siblings were exhibiting similar high-risk profiles which could lead, or had already led to their engagement in substance use or criminal activity.

Surrey School District No. 36
14225 56th Avenue
Surrey, BC
V3X 3A3
Tel: 604-599-7429
Fax: 604-596-6594

Organization: Vancouver Police Department
Project Title: Eastside Aboriginal Space for Youth (E.A.S.Y.)
Duration: August 1, 2008 - March 31, 2012

This initiative took an asset-based approach to addressing risk factors among urban Aboriginal youth at risk of joining youth gangs. The approach adapted the Search Institutes' 40 Development Assets Model, as well as aspects of the Aboriginal Medicine Wheel, in order to ensure recognition of, and respect for, Aboriginal culture. While not all of the 40 Developmental Assets are implemented, the project focused on those most closely aligned with the risk factors that make youth vulnerable to joining gangs and using drugs.

The project responded to well-documented crime issues in the Vancouver area including substance abuse, youth gangs and violent crimes. Its main objective was to strengthen assets of youth based on the four elements of the medicine wheel: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. The interventions facilitated resiliency among participants by improving internal assets, such as interpersonal competence and positive identity; external assets, such as conflict resolution and planning and decision-making skills, as well as a connection to their culture and access to recreational activities. Each youth is paired with an experienced mentor. The project also delivered extracurricular activities. A Late Night Resource and Outreach Program offered late-night activities from Wednesday to Saturday of each week. Sports-related activities, with a focus on basketball, were offered. Participation at weekly thematic workshops was a mandatory condition of the extracurricular activities.

Vancouver Police Department
2120 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 4N6
Tel: 604-717-2990
Fax: 604-665-3952

Organization: Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
Project Title: School Aged Children and Youth Substance Use Prevention Project (SACY)
Duration: September 15, 2007 – October 18, 2009

SACY is a school-based prevention and health promotion initiative designed to engage parents, teachers, students, administrators and the greater community in a process to improve existing school-based alcohol and drug prevention and early-intervention programs and policies.

The goal of the SACY pilot project was to enhance the prevention and brief intervention infrastructure in Vancouver School Board secondary schools and surrounding communities.

The model included an evidence-and strength-based approach that was comprehensive by way of providing a multi-layered approach to prevention, including universal education, youth engagement/support, parental engagement/support, school policy/climate change projects and the provision of professional development opportunities for teachers.

External evaluations of the SACY initiative indicated that the project provided youth who were suspended from school due to substance abuse with an opportunity to learn and be empowered to make positive changes in their lives. After participating in the program, participants reported an overall positive attitude in continuing to work toward goals in the areas of commitment to learning, reducing or quitting alcohol and other drug use and seeking more positive relationships. For these youth, SACY was not only a way to learn about substance abuse, but a way to develop their strengths and view themselves as a resource to society. The evaluation also reported that most parents saw noticeable positive changes in their children since the completion of the project.

Overall, youth who were involved in SACY on an ongoing basis reported higher levels of resiliency compared to youth who struggled on their own with substance abuse issues. Since 2009, SACY has moved out of the pilot phase and has become a formalized partner of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, providing services to all 18 VSB secondary schools.

For more information and evaluation reports, please visit:

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
320 - 1290 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC
V6Z 1W2
Tel.: 604-714-3466
Fax: 604-714-3478

Organization: Salmon Arm Partners in Community Leadership Association
Project Title: The Mandella Project “From Risk to Resilience” (Salmon Arm YIP)
Duration: October 1, 2009 – November 30, 2014

This project is a response to the complex youth crime issues that are on the rise within the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. The Mandella Project “From Risk to Resilience” reflects the Youth Inclusion Program (YIP) approach by offering a range of activities to help youth make positive lifestyle choices and become involved in addressing local community safety and youth crime issues. In accordance with the criteria of YIP, each year, this project will engage approximately 50 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth aged 8-17 years who are struggling with substance use issues and are at greatest risk of offending or re-offending. Other risk factors being addressed include low levels of parental involvement accompanied by anti-social behaviour and attitudes, low levels of academic achievement and weak attachment to school, associating with delinquent peers/siblings, availability of drugs, and community culture towards drug use.

To identify risk factors, systematic individual assessments are undertaken, which leads to the formulation of individual development plans. These plans involve the family and include services such as alcohol and drug counselling, individual and family counselling, health and nutrition education, job skills training, educational support, cultural skills/awareness training, and recreational activities.

For more information on the Youth Inclusion Program, please visit:

Salmon Arm Partners in Community Leadership Association
451 Shuswap St. SW
Salmon Arm, BC
V1E 4H9
Tel: 250-832-0108, ext. 104
Fax: 250-832-1005

Organization: Secwepemc Cultural Education Society
Project Title: Leadership and Resiliency Program
Duration: September 15, 2009 – December 14, 2014

This project is based on the Leadership and Resiliency Program (LRP). LRP is a school- and community-based program for “at-risk” high school students, 14 to 19 years of age. It is designed to enhance internal strengths and resiliency, while preventing substance abuse and related anti-social behaviour, particularly youth violence. The program is delivered daily on the school site, following the academic day, and may encompass some weekend activities throughout the year. As well, a three-day-a-week summer program is offered to participating students.

This project includes the three core components of LRP: resiliency groups, adventure activities and service learning. Resiliency groups explore topics such as substance abuse and life skills. Adventure activities may include camping and snowboarding and are delivered in a manner that provides positive risk-taking opportunities and deliberate follow-up. The service-learning component involves community beautification projects, animal rehabilitation, and an array of outreach volunteer services. In addition, the project also offers an Aboriginal component focusing on culturally sensitive teachings, family/community events, mentorship opportunities, FASD support services and referrals to addiction counselling if required.

For more information on the Leadership Resiliency Program, please visit:

Secwepemc Cultural Education Society
274A Halston Connector Road
Kamloops, BC
V2H 1J9
Tel: 778-471-5789
Fax: 778-471-5792

Organization: Sea to Sky Community Service Society
Project Title: Positive Action
Duration: June 1, 2010 – August 31, 2015

Sea to Sky Community Services Society is implementing Positive Action, an evidence-based program with a comprehensive approach to addressing risk and protective factors across the individual, family, school, peer and community domains. The approach is based on the philosophy that we feel good about ourselves when we do positive actions, which is conceptualized in the thoughts - actions – feelings circle (i.e., thoughts lead to actions, those actions lead to feelings about ourselves, which in turn lead to more positive thoughts).

The holistic approach of this project aims to reduce problematic and criminal behaviour and substance abuse among Aboriginal children and youth at risk. The primary group for this project is vulnerable Aboriginal children (6 to 11 years of age) and high-risk youth (12 to 18 years of age) who attend Signal Hill Elementary School and Pemberton Secondary School (both in Pemberton, BC), Head of the Lakes School (in Skatin, BC), and Xit'olacw Community School (in Mount Currie, BC). The interventions of this project are delivered to students in all participating classes in fifteen- to twenty-minute intervals, two to three times per week. The project activities include after school activities, individual and small group counselling, family visits, and parenting groups. These activities are designed to address risk factors including aggressive behaviour, negative peer association, inadequate parental supervision, lack of attachment to school/community, and substance use/abuse.

Sea to Sky Community Services Society
Box 949
Squamish, BC
V8B 0A7
Tel: 604-892-5796, Local 222
Fax: 604-892-2267

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