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Planet Youth launched in Kent County on Feb. 15, 2024. Image: Submitted/Vitalité Health Network

Planet Youth pilot expands to 4th site

By Brad Perry Feb 16, 2024 | 1:48 PM

A pilot project to help reduce substance use among New Brunswick youth is expanding.

Kent County has become the fourth site in the province to officially launch Planet Youth.

Sites are also operating in Saint John, Woodstock, and the Acadian Peninsula.

The Icelandic prevention model focuses on building a positive environment around youth to mitigate risk factors.

Pall Rikhardsson, CEO of Planet Youth, said the focus is to use “upstream thinking” to prevent problems before they occur.

Rikhardsson said the Icelandic Prevention model empowers community and health partners to design and implement initiatives that are unique to their communities.

“It works by shifting the focus from the individual kid to the community, so it’s the community that has to implement changes that lead to changes in children’s behaviour,” said Rikhardsson during the launch of the pilot in October 2022.

“This happens through addressing the risk and protective factors that are present in the lives of children and working with them and changing them so children change the behaviour.”

Rikhardsson said the program does not replace treatment but rather complements it with a prevention approach.

New Brunswick has committed nearly $1.3 million over five years for the province-wide pilot.