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The ‘Planet Youth prevention model’ is being introduced in Scotland to help us learn more about what is needed to keep our young people safe, healthy and happy. The approach is based on the highly successful Icelandic programme Planet Youth, which is being used all over the world to improve the lives of children.
In Iceland, Planet Youth instigated a huge drop in teenage drinking and smoking, increased sport participation and physical activity levels, and enabled families to spend more time together – leading to young people in Iceland being labelled ‘the cleanest living teens in Europe’.
Planet Youth involves running regular surveys with secondary school pupils to take a snapshot of teenage life in their local area. The surveys are completely confidential and ask the pupils about their school and home life and how they spend their free time - including whether they use drugs and alcohol. The surveys also ask pupils about things they would like to do or happen at school and in their local area.
Local groups and services then work together to address the needs and issues raised by the pupils in the surveys.
The charity Winning Scotland has teamed up with Planet Youth and four public sector organisations to deliver Planet Youth Scotland. The project will start by running surveys across 10 secondary school communities:
After the surveys are completed, the partners will form local coalitions of groups and services to address the needs and issues raised by the pupils. It’s too early to say exactly what that will involve, but 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.
When will the surveys take place?
The surveys will be completed by pupils from the 10 schools in September/October 2021. The surveys will be processed and analysed confidentially by the Planet Youth Data Centre in Reykjavik, Iceland. It will be impossible to trace pupil responses to any individual.
The partnership will then receive confidential localised reports with the survey results (one for each school) in November/December to pinpoint the needs of young people in their respective communities. An overall report with data from across the 10 schools will also be produced and shared publicly.
Zahra Hedges, CEO of Winning Scotland said: “Winning Scotland are delighted to have formed this partnership to bring the Planet Youth approach to Scotland. 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.”
Pall Rikhardsson, CEO of Planet Youth, said: “We very much look forward working with Clackmannanshire, Dundee, Highland and West Dunbartonshire in Scotland under the efficient coordination of Winning Scotland. Mapping out the situation in Scotland on a local level to acquire a baseline status will give an overview of substance use and overall wellbeing of youth. This is a vital part in identifying the main issues at hand and to further work towards changing the environment of children.”
Cllr Graham Lindsay, Spokesperson for Education at Clackmannanshire Council said: “This programme is the latest action that we are taking to help support the health and wellbeing of our young people, which is an important priority for the Council and our partners.
“By asking young people to give their views on a confidential basis to this well established model, we can all work together more effectively to allow them to lead fulfilling lives and feel supported by their family, school and community. This in turn will empower them to make positive, informed decisions about their health, lifestyle and education.”