How the Planet Youth prevention model works.
The Icelandic Story
Planet Youth is an international evidence-based prevention model, developed by the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA) at Reykjavik University. In 1990s, a group of Icelandic social scientists at ICSRA, along with policy makers and practitioners, began collaborating to understand what influenced substance use among young people, and what were some possible approaches for preventing substance use.
ICSRA developed a community-based approach for adolescent substance use prevention that involved a broad range of people across the whole community who actively worked together to create positive change.
The Planet Youth model offers the opportunity to improve health and life outcomes for young people in many areas. It works by directly targeting the risk factors and the protective factors that determine their substance use attitudes and behaviours, and focuses on enhancing the social environment they are growing up in.
The Icelandic community made a long-term commitment to the Planet Youth initiative. And it paid off. Over the course of 20 years the rates of adolescent substance use in Iceland went from being the highest in Europe, to being the lowest.
In Iceland ,the model has produced great results through having a consistent focus on local community work, cross-disciplinary collaboration and investment.
The three pillars of the Planet Youth Model are:
1. Evidence-based practice
2. Using a community-based approach
3. Creating and maintaining a dialogue between research, policy and practice
The Planet Youth approach is based on five principles. The principles provide guidance on how the community intervention process should be implemented.
The Planet Youth prevention model has 10 core implementation steps:
Step 1. Formation of a Local Coalition
Step 2. Securing of Local Funding
Step 3. Planning & Community Engagement
Step 4. Data Collection & Analysis
Step 5. Community Participation & Engagement
Step 6. Dissemination of Findings
Step 7. Community Goals & Organised Response to Findings
Step 8. Policy & Practice Alignment
Step 9. Immersion of Young People in Activities & Messages
Step 10. Repeat
The Planet Youth Approach
Within the Planet Youth approach, the risk and protective factors are defined within four major areas of intervention: parents and family, peer group, wellbeing at school, and leisure time and local community. These areas are encompassed by the whole community and the social environment in which it exists.
We recognise that all four areas are integral to the life of a young person. Young people need to have positive relationships with parents, peers they trust, a sense of wellbeing at school, and engagement in sport or other activities to reach their full potential. These four areas are influenced by broader social, environmental, and political factors that have an effect on individuals, families and whole communities.
The Planet Youth approach focuses on understanding current behaviours and attitudes within the four areas, and identifies opportunities to strengthen the protective factors in each of these four areas in young people’s lives. All Planet Youth Blue Mountains activities will be focused on one or more of these domains and will aim to increase protective factors across the board.
Planet Youth Blue Mountains is part of a global network whose aim is to strengthen protective factors and decrease risk factors for young people. There are currently 200 communities in 34 countries around the world implementing the Planet Youth framework. Each community implements The Planet Youth framework using the same three pillars and four areas of focus, but uses its own information from local research and takes action that is determined by the local community.
Planet Youth Blue Mountains is an Alcohol and Drug Foundation funded initiative that is being implemented by the Local Drug Action Team in partnership with Blue Mountains City Council and Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and supported by local schools, community members and a number of community services including Platform Youth Services, Ted Noffs Foundation, Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, Stronger Families Alliance, Belong Blue Mountains, Springwood Neighbourhood Centre, Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre, Blue Mountains Women’s Health & Resource Centre, Catholic Care, Uniting, TAFE Blue Mountains and the NSW Department of Education.