Inaugural 5/21 event a smoke-free affair

Tyler Clarke
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The skunk-like odour of marijuana was not welcome on Wednesday.


Throughout the afternoon, the Prince Albert Addiction Awareness Committee hosted their inaugural 5/21 event at Wesmor Community High School.

“We recognize that smoking marijuana is an unhealthy way to cope, and we want to promote healthy coping,” committee member and addictions counsellor Shelly Carriere said while students laughed at teachers plunging into the dunk tank.

A counterpoint to April 20 (4/20), which has been recognized as a day to smoke marijuana, May 21 (5/21) was a pot-free affair.

“As a group we just decided our city needed a little bit of awareness about the abuse of marijuana, so we got our students out to spread the message to our youth,” school guidance counsellor Carol Lemire said.

“If you’re using it because you’re bored or anxious or grieving you have to find a healthier way to deal with that.

“We just want to be constantly helping the kids make healthy life choices. We want to make sure our kids are good community leaders in the future.”

Intended to point students away from drugs, Wednesday saw students engage in various activities, including sumo-wrestling matches where one wrestler is named “Marijuana,” and the other was called “Healthier options.”

In a recent sample, the number of Prince Albert students in Grades 10 to 12 who admitted to using marijuana in the last year was 45 per cent -- a figure much greater than the national sample of 32.1 per cent.

We recognize that smoking marijuana is an unhealthy way to cope, and we want to promote healthy coping Shelly Carriere

About 33.5 per cent of Prince Albert’s Grade 9 students admitted to using marijuana.

“We’re just looking at promoting an alternative -- promoting healthy choices and giving people a choice,” Carriere said.

The committee hopes to keep the forward momentum of Wednesday’s event going through the balance of the year, as well as spur 5/21 into becoming an annual event.

“We do rely on everybody in the community to bring forth what their concerns are, and our committee is open to anyone in the public wants to be a part of it,” she said.

“It’s just a group of concerned citizens, really. Some of us are addictions counsellors, some of us are educators, parents, people that are in recovery, people who work in treatment centres.”

Charged with finding and addressing problems in the community, Carriere said that the committee got together “to try and brainstorm ideas on how we can make our community healthy in relation to addiction.”

Organizations: Prince Albert Addiction Awareness Committee, Wesmor Community High School, Prince Albert

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