Three Victoria youth are being recognized for their commitment and dedication to harm reduction awareness and training.
Island Health says Sam Elder and siblings Made and Nyoman Sparshu are the recipients of the inaugural Youth Harm Reduction award.
The win follows an educational journey that began back in 2019, after Sam lost a friend to the toxic drug crisis, according to the health authority.
That motivated Sam to learn more about Naloxone, the medication used to reverse opioid poisonings. She requested training and harm reduction information through Island Health for herself, Made and Nyoman.
Flash forward to today and the trio has since provided this training and information to more than 500 people, including high school students, staff and community members in the Greater Victoria area.
While fewer than 20 students attended their first workshop, Island Health says the impact was “immeasurable.”
“Months later, it was because of that workshop that someone was able to save the life of a high-risk youth,” said Sam, who recently completed her first year of studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.
“Now, we are receiving emails from schools asking us to come and train there. It’s surreal — I’m extremely happy with the progress that we’ve made.”
But Sam’s thinking bigger. She wants Naloxone training for all Vancouver Island high schools and the inclusion of harm reduction education into high school curriculum.
Congratulating Sam, Made and Nyoman on their win, B.C.’s Mental Health and Additions Minister Shelia Malcolmson says their work “inspires others to support people who are struggling.”
“Their project was so successful, and it was so great to have youth be empowered in this way,” added Keira St. George, a regional harm reduction coordinator at Island Health and one of the award’s founders.
The Youth Harm Reduction award is open to people under 19 living in the Island Health region, with projects focused on public health harm reduction in their communities eligible.
Applications are reviewed annually beginning in March.