The Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) Program has been running in Saskatoon for nearly 10 years. This program has had such longevity and success because of the dedicated professionals and volunteers that are involved in the program.

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Clockwise from top left: Laurie Miller, a Registered Nurse in the Saskatoon City Hospital Emergency Room (ER), shows students exactly what happens when someone arrives for treatment in an ER. Royal University Hospital Registered Nurses Jason Shand (left) and Mackenzie Garrett also conduct ER sessions with PARTY students. Lois Spizawka, Practitioner Affairs (centre), takes part in the ER presentations for the PARTY program, supported by Rob Gentes, manager (left), and George Pylypchuk, director of Practitioner Affairs (right). Presenters with the7th floor rehabilitation department at Saskatoon City Hospital include (back row, from left): Iain Maclean and Karin Diedrich-Classen; (front row): Michelle Riendeau and Jesse Dziad. Missing: Arlene Brandt, manager and long-time supporter of the PARTY program.

The PARTY Program is a nationally licensed, dynamic, interactive, injury-prevention and health promotion program for teenagers. The PARTY Program was developed in 1986 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto to educate teens about the consequences of risk-taking behaviors. There are now over 100 programs across Canada, as well as programs in the United States, Australia, Brazil and Japan.

A PARTY Program day is an interactive, full-day session in a hospital setting for approximately 80 Grade 10 students. Students discuss and think about different risk-taking scenarios that they may find or have found themselves in and plan for what they can do to reduce their risks of being injured or killed in preventable trauma.

The program’s key messages are: Drive Sober, Wear the Gear, Buckle Up, Get Trained, and Look First.  Students get hands-on experience with the equipment used in trauma care and rehabilitation, and are involved in simulations. They also learn about the brain and spinal cord, and the impact of an injury to those areas. Throughout the day, students will hear from and have the opportunity to ask questions of professionals involved in trauma situations, such as emergency room nurses, physical and occupational therapists, RCMP officers, emergency medical services personnel, and Addictions counsellors, as well as injury survivors. Seventeen PARTY program days will take place in Saskatoon this school year, with approximately 1,300 students taking part.

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Top left: Calder Centre staff Patrick Schaan (right) speaks to students during the Addictions portion of the PARTY program. His manager, Zoe Teed McKay recognizes the importance of his involvement and supports Schann’s work with the program. Top right: Addictions counsellor Siobhan O’Connor (right), speaks to students about addictions during PARTY, and Maureen Kachor, manager of Mental Health and Addiction Services, supports her in this role. Middle: Tammy Jackson (left), Volunteer Services manager, poses with just a few of the incredible PARTY program volunteers: Richard and Isobel Afseth, Norma Frank, Betty Harms, Harold Swift and Linda Stanviloff. Bottom left: Cpl. Doug Green, a forensic traffic reconstructionist with the RCMP, has been a valuable and influential police presenter for Saskatoon’s PARTY program. Bottom right: MD Ambulance staff Trevor Porteous (right) is a dedicated EMS presented for the PARTY Program. Troy Davis (left) was a presenter at one time, and has been a long-time supporter of PARTY in Saskatoon.

Volunteers and professionals from Saskatoon Health Region departments have stepped forward with their time and expertise and have been making a difference in our youth. They go above and beyond their day to day work and are a great example to others in the Region.

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in people aged 1 to 34, and suicide is the second-leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 34 (Public Agency of Canada, 2008).   The dedicated professionals involved in this program see senseless deaths and traumas in our youth too often in their day-to-day work and want to make a difference. They share their experiences in an interactive manner to help students better understand the consequences of their decisions, allowing them to think it through and empowering them to make better decisions.

The influence that these professionals have had is amazing and evident in the feedback forms we receive from the students and teachers.

“I liked all of it because it made me rethink about the things I’ve been doing,” one wrote.   Another said, “I liked all of it. It’s so weird how I didn’t know any of that and I did it all but going to that changed everything.”

Education professionals also stand behind the program, believing it has a definite impact on the students who attend. “This program has definitely changed lives, but more importantly, I sincerely believe that it will save lives,” one teacher noted. “The work you are doing is incredibly important. As a parent and educator I applaud both the message of PARTY and the interactive approach you have taken,” wrote a principal.

“This program would not be possible without the support of Saskatoon Health Region’s professional presenters, volunteers and the support of our community partners:  the RCMP, Saskatoon City Police and MD Ambulance,” stated Julie Gerwing, Education and Prevention Coordinator with the Saskatchewan Central Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Team. “If you recognize any of these individuals please thank them for taking the time to make a difference in our youth.  I hope they inspire other professionals to become involved in this program.”

If you are interested in becoming a professional presenter, volunteer, or sponsor for the PARTY program, we welcome individuals to attend an event and contact Julie.Gerwing@saskatoonhealthregion.ca for more information.  Please also go to the website partyprogram.com or our Facebook page – Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth Program Sask. Central for additional information.