An Important Guest post by Tim Mcsorley. A new project involving the National Film Board of Canada, The YouthCo AIDS Society, Edmonton's iHuman Youth Society and Youth Restorative Action Project. Front paged to get some well deserved attention! -pale
The debate around harm reduction in Canada is a complex one. At it's simplest, harm reduction is any policy or practice that recognizes that sometimes people cannot simply walk away from risky situations - homelessness, poverty, drug addiction - but rather adopt ways to minimize risk in their daily lives.
Harm reduction is most often associated with drug use, and particularly needle exchanges and supervised injection sites like InSite in Vancouver. But harm reduction goes a lot further than that: it's outreach programs, employment training, counselling and support services.
As the debate over InSite in particular heated up over the summer, a lot of words were spilled across the country. But missing from the discussion were the voices of people who actually use harm reduction services and adopt these practices in their daily lives.
Some of those voices are finally getting a platform, though, with the launch of Playing It Safe, a website featuring short documentaries filmed by youth living in at-risk sitautions and coming from marginalised communities. Working with the National Film Board, Vancouver's YouthCo AIDS Society and Edmonton's iHuman Youth Society and Youth Restorative Action Project, they each produced a series of webisodes that explore how they implement risk reduction in their daily lives, whether concerning drug use, homelessness or learning to cook.
You can follow each of the youth as new episodes are posted over the next two months; several are already up. We're hoping that these films go beyond the site and serve to help broaden the discussion of what it means for young people to stay safe and how we can better provide services and support, whether we are friends, family or simply supporters. You can leave your comments and thoughts on the site, or follow us on our blog - that's where I'll be writing for the next few months, updating folks on the site and (hopefully) provoking some discussion. I'll also be sure to check back in here and post updates along the way too.