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Canada's First Nations Communities Focus on Prevention with Botvin LifeSkills Training

   

WHITE PLAINS, NY The Botvin LifeSkills Training program has been selected by several of Canada's First Nations Communities to help prevent unhealthy behavior and to promote positive youth development. Two Saskatchewan communities, along with the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Maskwacis Cree Communities, are implementing the program to teach First Nations students the skills necessary to make positive health choices. They join First Nations communities throughout Canada that are showing their commitment to crime and drug prevention.

The two Saskatchewan programs, which are focused on steering at-risk youth away from crime and gangs, are the Pelican Narrows and Okanese Youth Lifeskills Training Programs. The goal is to reduce the First Nations youth engagement in high-risk behavior and involvement, or potential involvement, in criminal activities. These crime prevention projects will use the LST program and are supported by cultural learning, thanks to federal funding delivered through the National Crime Prevention Strategy's Crime Prevention Action Fund and Northern and Aboriginal Crime Prevention Fund.

"After many years of research, we now have a better understanding of the causes of health-risk behaviors and how to prevent them," said Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, a professor at Cornell University's Weill Medical College and developer of the LST program. "Now that we have developed effective programs to prevent problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, the next major challenge is to promote their use.  The LST program has been extensively tested and proven effective among a wide variety of youth. It's very exciting to know that the LST program is being implemented in Canada's First Nations Communities."

The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Maskwacis Cree communities partnered with the University of Alberta to identify an effective program for substance abuse and violence prevention that could be delivered to children and youth in the community. The University, together with the community elders, chose the LifeSkills Training program, based on its proven effectiveness with school-aged children. They then customized it to fit the community's culture, visible images, and languages.

The communities piloted the LST program, known as Nimi Icinohabi in the fall of 2006 with elementary students at the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation School. Over the next three years, funding from the Alberta government's Safe Communities grant supported the continued delivery of the program with the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation youth and pilot implementation with Maskwacis Cree communities. The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is so happy with the program that it has decided to make the program a permanent part of the school curriculum, and the First Nation has taken over funding of the program.

About Botvin LifeSkills Training Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) is a highly effective evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program with more than 30 years of peer-reviewed research behind it. Studies testing its effectiveness have found that LST can reduce the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. The program was developed by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Cornell University's Weill Medical College and director of Cornell's Institute for Prevention Research. Dr. Botvin is also founder and president of National Health Promotion Associates, which markets the LST program and other health materials. LST has been used with youth in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and in 32 countries around the world. LST is included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and has been selected for prevention excellence by numerous organizations including the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (part of the U.S. Department of Justice). Recently LST was selected as a Top Tier prevention program by the Coalition for Evidence-based Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization in Washington, DC. Visit www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

Media Contact:  Paulina Kalaj, 800-293-4969, pkalaj@nhpamail.com

 
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