Kids and drugs: The Vancouver teachers transforming substance use education

published on July 16, 2019 by Zak Vescera in Vancouver Sun

Art Steinmann wanted to revolutionize how we teach kids about drugs.

The veteran educator saw that traditional drug education — based on scare tactics and intimidation — just wasn’t working. Worse, it was leaving kids unprepared for the realities of substance use.

“It was based on very simplistic, black-and-white moralistic approaches to drugs,” says Steinmann. “You tell kids drugs are bad, they shouldn’t do them, and that the kids are bad if they do them, and you punish them and hope it solves something. It doesn’t.”

Steinmann flipped that on its head. Today he’s the Manager of Substance Use Health Promotion and leader of the Supporting And Connecting Youth (SACY) program at the Vancouver School Board, where drug education is steered by the reality of students’ lives — what they’re experimenting with, why, and how they can stop or reduce use safely…

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