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Drugs and alcohol a problem for Whistler youth



Parents and community workers brainstorm about how to keep their kids safe at special high-school meeting

By Clare Ogilvie.

Alcohol and drugs are as much a problem for Whistler teens as they are for youths anywhere else in the province.

That was the message Whistler Secondary Principal Ken Davies, community youth workers, RCMP, and a local counselor gave to the parents of Grade 6, 7, and 8 students at a special meeting held earlier this week.

Community policing RCMP Const. Michelle Friesen brought the lesson home when she told parents about two 15-year-olds who in the last several months were found dangerously intoxicated.

In separate instances the teens were found in waterlogged ditches.

Friesen pointed out that both could have drowned if she hadn’t found them before they passed out.

Friesen has also come across teens trying to gain access to clubs and hanging out with much older people from Vancouver.

"Whistler definitely has alcohol and drugs available just like any other community," she said.

With that wake-up call about 40 parents broke-up into workshop groups and began to brainstorm on how to keep their kids safe.

As the groups reported back it became clear that communication between kids and parents, parents and parents, community workers and the school was of paramount importance.

That was no surprise to Principal Davies who decided to hold the meeting to get communication lanes open.

"What I think was primary was an opportunity for parents to network," he said.

"Parents being able to communicate with other parents that they don’t normally do in their social circle about teenagers.

"And being able to develop practical strategies was, I think, absolutely invaluable and was supplied by parents."

There’s no doubt said Davies that many in the resort are not aware of the influence drugs and alcohol has.

"I think some genuinely don’t know," said Davies, who plans to hold this type of meeting regularly.

"I think there are some who would rather not know and it places some in a very uncomfortable position.

"But what I think they need to know is that Whistler, or any other place, is not immune and we can’t bury our heads in the sand and whatever we are doing we have to make good decisions that are going to allow our children to be safe.

"Possibly what needs to happen is that there needs to be alternative choices that kids will buy into that are meaningful for kids that are healthy alternatives, rather than simply just hanging out in the village."