Parent Action on Drugs (PAD) has worked to strengthen protective factors in families in Toronto. With the help of a grant from Health Canada’s Drug Strategy Community Initiative Fund and in partnership with community organizations, PAD adapted the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Strengthening Families for the Future Program model for families with youth aged 12 to 16 and tested the curriculum in eight trials with diverse families.
Parents and their teens participated in nine weekly sessions that included a family meal, activities for just parents and just teens, and activities that brought the two groups together. Through these sessions, teens built their social competencies, and parents built their parenting skills such as positive discipline and parental monitoring. This skill building helped families interact in a positive way and communicate better across generations. The teens involved in the pilot program reported decreases in depression and aggression, and increased concentration.
PAD knew they would have to overcome youth reluctance to the program to make it work. They asked youth groups across the city for their feedback on the program activities to make sure the curriculum speaks to and engages youth. With this invaluable advice, they develop the 5-Es of their youth learning model: Engage, Explain, Experience, Explore, Empower.