Published 22 September 2021
Clydebank High School is participating in an innovative positive lifestyle project that follows the example of ‘the cleanest living teens in Europe.’
The Planet Youth prevention model was first introduced in Iceland, where it instigated a huge drop in teenage drinking and smoking, increased sport participation and enabled families to spend more time together.
Now the charity Winning Scotland has teamed up with Planet Youth and four public sector organisations across the country, including West Dunbartonshire, to introduce a similar model.
The process will begin this month with pupil surveys asking about their school, their home life and how they spend their free time – including whether they use drugs or alcohol – to take a snapshot of teenage life in each school’s area.
The survey also asks pupils about things they would like to do or happen, both at school and in their local area.
The feedback, which is completely confidential and cannot be traced back to an individual pupil, will be analysed to help partner organisations address the needs and issues raised by the pupils.
This may include:
Young people are at the heart of this approach. As well as inviting them to share their experiences and opinions in the surveys, the partnership will ensure that young people's voices are heard loud and clear in the design and development of any proposed solutions.
The partnership strongly believes that Planet Youth Scotland could help create the conditions that will allow young people to lead fulfilling lives and feel supported by their family, school and community, as well as reducing levels of alcohol and substance use. This in turn will empower our young people to make positive, informed decisions relating to their health, lifestyle and education.
The programme has a proven track record of success, initially and most notably in Iceland where regular drinking fell from 42% of teens in 1998 to just 6% in 2020.
Since its inception in 1998 Planet Youth has been adopted and adapted by 14 countries worldwide including Ireland, Spain, Chile, Estonia, Canada and Australia.
Now West Dunbartonshire is proud to play a part in bringing the model to Scotland, working in partnership and in support of Winning Scotland’s mission to empower young people to be ambitious, versatile and resilient.
Beth Culshaw, Chief Officer of West Dunbartonshire HSCP, said: “Establishing good health habits at an early age has a significant positive influence on the physical and mental wellbeing of our community.
“We are proud, therefore, to partner Winning Scotland in this innovative programme which seeks to work proactively with young people and draw upon their views to establish relevant support structures that can help them make positive lifestyle choices now, and in the future.
“Our Alcohol and Drug Partnership have worked closely with staff at Clydebank High School and engaged with parents and guardians to reassure that the survey process will be strictly confidential to protect the privacy and welfare of the young people who take part.”
Laura Mason, Chief Education Officer for West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “The Planet Youth concept complements our ethos of working in partnership with our young people to encourage them to make life choices that will help them now and in the future.
“The staff at Clydebank High School are excited to be part of a forward-thinking project that boasts a proven track record of improving the environment and social habits of young people in multiple countries around the world.”
Zahra Hedges, CEO of Winning Scotland said: “We believe Planet Youth Scotland has the potential to make a hugely positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of young people here, just as it has in Iceland.
"Together with our partners, we are committed to putting our young people first, and that begins by listening to what they say in the surveys, and doing everything we can to ensure they are safe, healthy and happy.”