Helping Students Plan Lower-Risk Celebrations

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With graduation plans well underway, area high school students are being given an in-depth look at the dangers associated with alcohol, drugs and risky party-related behaviour today. The 16th annual SafeGrad workshop is taking place at the Thames Valley Education Centre, providing student leaders from across the region with information about the consequences of unsafe partying while developing skills to help them make smart choices for themselves and fellow classmates.

"Graduation should be a time to celebrate, but too often partying has led to alcohol-related deaths and injuries," says keynote speaker Professor Robert Solomon, of The University of Western Ontario's Faculty of Law and National Director of Legal Policy for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada. "While these injures may generate costly civil suits, we should all be more concerned about the human cost."

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Impaired driving, or riding with an impaired driver continues to be a major issue of concern. Statistics show that in the past year, 12% of high school drivers got behind the wheel within an hour of having two or more drinks, 16% drove within an hour of using cannabis and 26% reported riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking.

The 2007 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (Centre for Addiction and Mental Heath) led to significant findings. It found 61% of students consumed alcohol in the past year; 26% reported binge drinking during in the 4 weeks before the survey; 25% used cannabis in the past year; 12% smoked cigarettes in the past year; and 3.5% used ecstasy in the past year.

SafeGrad's mission is to equip high school students with information, skills, peer support and community support to plan safer celebrations throughout the year.

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