Program Snapshot

What is Influence in Action?

  • A program designed using peer influencers who assist peers to make informed decisions regarding their drug use.
  • Schools and organizations from across the country may contact us to get involved.
  • In each school, peer-identified youth are trained in critical thinking and communication skills on a variety of topics with a particular focus on cannabis.
  • Youth use informal interactions with their peers to share information about substance use and drugs.
  • The Students Commission and partners supports the students and their adult mentors.
  • A manual is available for adults and for youth influencers.
  • Adults and youth influencers will be notified about opportunities for conference events.
  • School and organizations are expected to participate in ongoing evaluations about the impact of the program.

Why the Influence in Action model?

This model of peer influencer and peer support has been tested successfully in the ASSIST program (A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial) in Southwest England and Wales, and in the Drug Safety Project in Australia. In the ASSIST program, schools reported sustained reductions in the uptake of regular smoking for two years after the students involvement. The Drug Safety Project peer supporters reported increased levels of confidence and knowledge around substance use, and had interactions with a wide cross-section of their peers. For more information on these and similar programs, check out the Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagementís website at www.engagementcentre.ca or look at www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/cishe/pages/projects/assist.html for more information about the ASSIST program.

  • Some studies have shown that informal discussion around issues like this resonate more with students than the traditional teaching and activism models of education and awareness.
  • Using peers to identify leaders, rather than adults, increases the likelihood of involving real, diverse leaders who can reach a much larger audience of their peers.
  • Training youth in communication strategies and current information builds skills for the peer influencers, which are transferable in school and life.

If you want to know more about this program, please contact Sharif Mahdy at 416-597-8297 or at sharifm@tgmag.ca in Toronto.


The Students Commission