About Planet Youth

There are currently three Planet Youth pilot sites operating in Ireland. They are Planet Youth Galway, Planet Youth Mayo and Planet Youth Roscommon. These five-year pilot programmes have been initiated and developed by the Western Region Drug and Alcohol Task Force (WRDATF) with the support of partner agencies in the region. Local steering committees have been established for each of the pilot sites and these consist of funders and strategic partners, all of whom are committed to the development of Planet Youth in the region.

Planet Youth is an international evidence-based primary prevention model, developed by the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA) at Reykjavik University. It was initially developed in order to reduce substance use rates amongst young people. The model uses a whole population approach and offers the opportunity to improve health and life outcomes for young people in many areas. It works by directly targeting the risk and protective factors that determine their substance use behaviours and enhancing the social environment they are growing up in. By reducing the known risk factors and strengthening the known protective factors the problems associated with adolescent substance use can be reduced or stopped before they arise.

The three pillars of the model are:
  1. Evidence-based practice
  2. Using a community-based approach
  3. Creating and maintaining a dialogue between research, policy and practice

In Iceland the model has produced great results through having a consistent focus on local community work, cross-disciplinary collaboration and investment.

The Planet Youth approach is based on five principles that provide guidance on how the community intervention process should be implemented.

Apply a primary prevention approach that is designed to enhance the social environment.
Integrate researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, and community members into a unified team dedicated to solving complex, real-world problems.
Engage and empower community members to make practical decisions using local, high-quality, accessible data and diagnostics.
Emphasise community action and embrace schools as a natural hub of community efforts to support child and adolescent health, learning, and life success.
Match the scope of the solution to the scope of the problem, including emphasising long-term intervention and investment when marshalling resources.

Risk and Protective Factors

Within the Planet Youth approach, the risk and protective factors are defined within four major domains of intervention: parents and family, leisure time and local community, peer group and school.

These domains are encompassed by the overall social environment and further influenced by regional and national context and policies.


The model is underpinned by data derived from the administration of the Planet Youth questionnaire. This comprehensive lifestyle questionnaire is administered to the 15-16 year olds in the target community and it examines a great many aspects of their lives. There are questions on their substance use, health, mental health, physical activity, family and school experience, internet use, bullying etc. There are 73 questions in total in the current Planet Youth questionnaire.

The data from the survey is analysed and presented with the goal of providing each community with the information that will enable them to develop data-driven interventions designed to address selected risk and protective factors.  The full dataset from the survey is available to the steering committees for research purposes and for use in designing responses to other issues identified within the data.  This is decided upon by each steering committee.  The Planet Youth data allows the opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of young people and to improve the social environment they are growing up in.

Additionally, each school of sufficient size that takes part in the survey is provided with a copy of their own school report that gives an insight into the general health and wellbeing of their pupils, together with some other factors of interest at the school level.

The overall vision of Planet Youth is that all young people are active, healthy and happy, connected to their families and communities, and achieving their full potential.  


Meet The Team

The coordinator for the Planet Youth project is Emmet Major.

The team at the WRDATF that have worked on the development of the Planet Youth project to date are Michéal Durcan, Patrick Conway, Gary Kyne, Gillian Conway, Neil Wilson, Liam O’Loughlin and Orla Walshe. 

The steering committees members are listed below:


Michael Smyth

Independent Chairperson

Michéal Durcan


Emmet Major


Irene Murphy

Youth Work Ireland Galway

Caitriona Morgan

Galway City Council

Mary McGann

Galway County Council

Morgan Mee


Susan Forde


Paul Frecklington

ARD Family Resource Centre

Sara Ní Chuirreáin


Imelda Gormally

Galway City Partnership

Bernadine Brady

NUI Galway

Dr. Diarmuid O’Donovan

NUI Galway

Marie Cuddy


James Applegate


Cliona Ní Neill

Our Lady’s College

John Canny


Jason Craughwell

Galway Sports Partnership


Dr Mark Garavan

Independent Chairperson

Michéal Durcan


Patrick Conway


Breda Ruane


Anne Roynane

Mayo County Council

Siobhan Duane


Peader Gardiner

Mindspace Mayo

Anne Finn

Mayo North East

Siobhan Mc Brearty


Charlie Lambert

Mayo Sports Partnership

Nessa McGowan

St Angela’s NS Castleber

Jarlath Munnelly


Roy Hession

St Colman’s College

Stephaine Cook




Independent Chairperson

Emmet Major


Eamon Hannon


Mary McGrath


Gary Nugent


Sarah Brennan

Vita House

Davnet McEllin


Sinead O’Brien

Roscommon County Council

Caroline Duignan


Linda Sice

Roscommon Leader Partnership

Eileen Ryan

Castlerea Community School

Dr. Una Feeley

St. Comán’s Wood Primary School