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.
- Evidence-based practice
- Using a community-based approach
- 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.
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:
HSE / WRDATF
WRDATF / GRETB
Youth Work Ireland Galway
Galway City Council
Galway County Council
ARD Family Resource Centre
Sara Ní Chuirreáin
Galway City Partnership
Dr. Diarmuid O’Donovan
Cliona Ní Neill
Our Lady’s College
Galway Sports Partnership
Dr Mark Garavan
HSE / WRDATF
SWMDC / WRDATF
Mayo County Council
Mayo North East
Siobhan Mc Brearty
Mayo Sports Partnership
St Angela’s NS Castleber
St Colman’s College
WRDATF / GRETB
Roscommon County Council
Roscommon Leader Partnership
Castlerea Community School
Dr. Una Feeley
St. Comán’s Wood Primary School