Ladysmith a safer, happier, healthier place for teens

McCreary survey of central island area says things are improving for high school students

Ladysmith Secondary School students Shelby Dorman-Banks

Ladysmith Secondary School students Shelby Dorman-Banks

Our kids are happier, healthier and less likely to be taking drugs than they were five years earlier.

That is the broad interpretation of the findings of a study on Vancouver Island teens conducted in 2013 and released last month.

Undertaken by the McCreary Centre Society, a Vancouver-based non-profit youth health organization, the study focused on Grade 7 to 12 students in the Cowichan, Nanaimo, Qualicum and Alberni school districts and followed on the heels of similar surveys in 2003 and 2008.

“We have seen great local improvements in areas such as substance use that show young people are making some good choices about their health,” McCreary Society executive director Annie Smith said.

The centre does not release the results on a school by school basis, so a specific breakdown for Ladysmith was unavailable.

But overall, it showed a majority of local high school students felt connected to their family, school, and community; had positive plans for the future; and were engaging in health promoting behaviours which will assist them to transition successfully to adulthood.

Among the specific improvements from 2008 to 2013:

• Fewer students are needing physical medical attention (29% instead 35%)

• Fewer students are missing out on needed mental and physical health care treatment (9% instead 15%)

• The percentage of students experimenting with tobacco dropped (from 30% to 24%)

• The percentage of students experimenting with marijuana dropped (from 40% to 30%)

• The percentage of students experimenting with alcohol dropped (from 64% to 53%)

Meanwhile, the percentage of students experiencing forms of harassment dropped, and a higher percentage of youth reported they felt safe compared to any previous study year.

And 86% of students surveyed considered themselves in good or excellent physical health, and 80% in good or excellent mental health

While those findings are all positive, survey organizers are concerned there has been no improvement in one of the most crucial areas: the amount of suicides and incidents of self-harm.

The survey showed 22% of females and 7% of males had deliberately harmed themselves without the intention of killing themselves in the past year.

Another area that raised red flags was lack of sleep. According to Smith that could have serious repercussions.

“We see a direct relationship between getting enough sleep and positive mental health, yet 45% of local students did not get eight hours of sleep on the night before taking the survey and over three-quarters were online or on their phone after their parents expected them to be asleep,” she said.

The 130-question survey was designed to consider emerging youth health issues and to track trends in risky behaviour and healthy practices over time.

Some other findings:

• 70% identified as “European,” 14% as “Aboriginal

• 70% spoke only English at home

• 81% of students identified as “completely straight,” 5% as gay, lesbian or bisexual

• 82% lived with their mother/stepmother most of the time, while 68% said the same about their father/stepfather

• 4% live, or have lived in some form of government care

Read the entire report at

Just Posted

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Op-Ed: Modernizing forestry and prioritizing reconciliation

Doug Routley writes on Fairy Creek and Central Walbran Valley old growth deferrals

The log retaining wall that supports the access road to the Ladysmith Community Marina is failing and needs to be replaced. (Cole Schisler photo)
Remediation work for community marina access road expected to be costly

A log retaining wall between the access road and the parking area is failing and must be replaced

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read