Parent Action on Drugs (PAD)
One of the greatest resources we all possess is our youth. Instructing and guiding them into making reasonable and informed decisions, which will affect the future direction of their lives, is a major theme of Parent Action on Drugs (PAD).
Teens are exposed to drug images almost every day. All they have to do is turn on the TV, go to a movie, a social event as part of their normal lives to see these images of drugs and substances.
Teens are just a few years away from entering the age group most likely to develop a problem. Learning about the dangers will help teens make the informed decisions and choices necessary whenever circumstances present substances and how to deal successfully with these situations.
What makes this process fun, meaningful and acceptable is having the training sessions presented by the teens peers.
Parent Action on Drugs initiated its first peer education program on substance use and abuse in 1985 in a single high school in Scarborough, Ontario. Now in its 22nd year of delivery, it is the longest, continuously running, peer-delivered program on drug education in Ontario and likely in Canada.
When PAD began delivering peer-led programming, it was a leader in the field. Now peer-led interventions have been demonstrated through research to deliver superior results with youth in the area of drug education.
In 1988, PAD joined with the Masonic Foundation of Ontario in a sponsoring partnership to deliver drug education through a peer leadership program throughout the entire province. This has been a relationship that has lasted nineteen years and resulted in enormous benefits for the youth of our province.
Highlights over the years of our affiliation:
- 22 schools have participated for 5 or more consecutive years this means that there is sufficient continuity that a number of students who received the program in grade eight went on to become the peer leaders delivering the program a double benefit for the individuals and the schools.
- In annual training workshop evaluations completed by the peer leaders, 84% found that their knowledge of facts about alcohol and other drugs increased as a result of their training and 100% felt that their confidence about being a peer leader increased.
- It has trained over 7,500 peer leaders and over 54,000 grade 8 and 9 students, each one of these receiving professional literature with the MFO logos on it, which in turns reaches their parents.
- An independent, outside evaluation conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in 1997 concluded that the PAD program was an appropriate intervention for grade 8 students as they were at the right stage of development for the program to have maximum impact and were very receptive to having high school students teach them about alcohol and other drugs. The study found the PAD program provides information, clarifies misconceptions and arms the younger students with the skills to resist drugs.
- Nine workshop trainers have been affiliated with this program, representing a total of over 150 years professional experience in the areas of psychology, education and health promotion.
- The program has undergone consistent revisions in content and format to keep it current and relevant, including the production of two films involving youth, new activities and learning strategies. All were tested with the target audience before being incorporated in the program.
- Teachers and public health nurses have consistently noted the high quality of trainers, the training workshops and the program provided to the younger students.
- Multiple students have contacted PAD and our trainers for further references for higher education programs, including teaching, social work and medicine. Two teachers who we have worked with to deliver the program were at one time involved as PAD peer leaders themselves.
- Overall, the partnership between Parent Action on Drugs and the Masonic Foundation of Ontario has produced a program that continually and consistently provides top-of-the-line educational benefits for youth and is a recognized success in the field of drug education.