Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sooke school district partners with community groups to keep youth off opioids


“Students, schools, families and community all under one umbrella,” is how Ruchi McArthur describes the ‘Healthy Schools, Healthy People’ initiative when asked about it.

McArthur was recently appointed to lead the project, which is currently being implemented at three schools – Belmont Secondary, Royal Bay Secondary, and Edward Milne Secondary – in Sooke. 

See also: BC Coroners Service launches inquest into 16-year-old Oak Bay student who died of opioid overdosed

What is Healthy Schools, Healthy People? According to their website, “strengthened health-education partnerships, tools for healthy school assessment and planning, and the coordination of existing school-based healthy living programs and resources combine to support improvements in students’ health and learning.” 

In other words, Healthy School, Healthy People aims to look at the overall wellness of students – not just at academic success and physical health – as a way to reduce the chances of opioid dependency later in life.  

Due to the increase in usage of opioids in British Columbia and in turn, the risk of death by overdose, a lot of what ‘Healthy Schools, Healthy People’ deals with is substance abuse-related.

A holistic approach

“What we try and do is bring parents, students, and the community together to have conversations surrounding substance abuse, and give the students a safe place to ask questions and work through scenarios. We try to educate and prevent, rather than dealing with the aftermath,” McArthur tells Victoria Buzz.

The program will take aim at teaching practices, curriculum, student engagement, and more to determine what causes success in some students and failure in others.

“It’s an attempt to create a connection between school, home and community partners,” says McArthur, “We use a holistic approach in trying to look at what ails a student.”

See also: BC launches class action lawsuit against opioid drug companies

The goal is to grow the initiative and implement it at all secondary schools across the Greater Victoria region. 

Community partners of Healthy Schools, Healthy People include, but are not limited to:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Greater Victoria,
  • Island Health (Public Health, Discovery, Queen Alexander),
  • Island Sexual Health,
  • MCFD Child and Youth Mental Health,
  • UVic (School of Exercise Sc., PHE), and
  • the CRD (Health & Capital Planning Strategies, Active Safe Routes to Schools).

For more information on Healthy Schools, Healthy People visit

Abby Neufeld
Abby Neufeld
Freelance writer for Victoria Buzz.

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