Last year, the University of Waterloo conducted a Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey (CRAYS) at George Elliot Secondary (GES) in Lake Country. The Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, is a pan-Canadian survey of students in grades 9 to 12. The survey looked at 5 interconnected issues facing students that impact their well-being – mental health, bullying, tobacco use, nutrition, UV exposure and school connectedness.
As part of the Plan H Healthy Communities Capacity Building Grant (Stream One) that Lake Country Health Planning Society (LCHPS) recently received, the society will be reviewing these findings and looking for opportunities to take action on them. LCHPS is also conducting its own Youth Health Survey and will compile these results, along with other research such as that found in the CRAYS report, into a Community Health and Wellness plan.
The CRAYS report provides parents, schools and the community in general, with some very interesting and relevant information about the health and well-being of our youth. The survey was completed by 460 students at GES. It found that 38% of the students at GES do not eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, 34% have been bullied by another student in the last month and 72% had tried drinking alcohol (see chart below).
The survey also found that 26% of the students have tried smoking a cigarette, 52% of those who have tried tobacco also tried a flavoured tobacco product and 35% have tried smoking marijuana (see chart below).
Compared to the provincial and national findings, Lake Country students were pretty similar in their repsonses. Although our young people are not neccesarily any more at risk than those in other parts of the country, LCHPS thinks we can do better. With some targeted and effective strategies, LCHPS believes we can improve the health of the youth in our community. Over the next several weeks, LCHPS will be reviewing more of the findings from this survey and writing about it here.