Planet Youth was introduced in the West of Ireland in 2018 and following a successful ethical approval process with the RCPI – Royal College of Physicians is being introduced to Cavan and Monaghan in a research collaboration with the RCSI.
This five-year pilot programme has been initiated and developed by an Implementation Committee, made up of representatives who have a remit for Children and Young People. Some 2,000 post Junior-Cycle students across every second level school and Youthreach Centre throughout Cavan and Monaghan will participate in the Planet Youth Survey and the results of this will produce both county and school reports, the first of their kind in both counties.
Planet Youth is an international evidence-based primary prevention model, developed by the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA) at Reykjavik University. It was initially developed in order to reduce substance use rates amongst young people.
The model uses a whole population approach and offers the opportunity to improve health and life outcomes for young people in many areas. It works by directly targeting the risk and protective factors that determine their substance use behaviours and enhancing the social environment they are growing up in. By reducing the known risk factors and strengthening the known protective factors the problems associated with adolescent substance use can be reduced or stopped before they arise.
5 Guiding Principles
The five guiding principles guide the types of information we gather and the interventions we design. They ensure that the community as a whole works together. Community involvement, empowerment and ownership of the project are key ingredients for successful implementation.
1: Apply a primary prevention approach that is designed to enhance the social environment.
2: Integrate researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, and community members into a unified team dedicated to solving complex, real-world problems.
3: Engage and empower community members to make practical decisions using local, high-quality, accessible data and diagnostics.
4: Emphasise community action and embrace schools as a natural hub of community efforts to support child and adolescent health, learning, and life success.
5: Match the scope of the solution to the scope of the problem, including emphasising long-term intervention and investment when marshalling resources.
Together, the Planet Youth Implementation group has initiated the project’s needs led, bottom-up approach that will see data collated directly from young people, providing us with information on the lives and lifestyle of our young people. Co -funded by 10 local partners, our Memorandum of Understanding for implementation of the Model is for the next 5 years. The Icelandic Centre of Research and Social Studies (ICRSA) of the University of Reykjavik will collate our local data and forward it to our research partners in the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.
Our Mission is to lead a process of transformative change by embedding primary prevention approaches which enhance young people’s health, relationships, environment and wellbeing.
While public bodies and non-profit organisations are already working together to improve outcomes for young people, evidenced-based prevention needs greater priority. Planet Youth provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to change the way they think about prevention and their role in it.
Agencies and organisations – big and small – must consider what they can do within their remit, either directly or indirectly. This includes reassessing their activities with a view to minimising risk factors and maximising protective factors. While stakeholders will approach Planet Youth in different ways, ultimately the shared objective is to achieve better outcomes for young people.
Prevention activities are more likely to succeed when they are systematic, evidence-based and collaborative. While the need for prevention is increasingly recognised, it often occurs in an ad hoc manner. Planet Youth urges all stakeholders – from national and local government to public bodies, schools and community-based organisations – to play their part in prioritising prevention in an integrated and holistic way.
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