Planet Youth in Scotland is a community partnership approach, led by Winning Scotland, that will help us learn more about what is needed to keep our young people safe, healthy and happy.
Planet Youth originated in Iceland in the 1990s, and has since been used all over the world to improve the lives of children.
In Iceland, Planet Youth instigated a huge drop in teenage drinking and smoking, increased physical activity levels and supported families to spend more time together – leading to young people in Iceland being labelled ‘the cleanest living teens in Europe’.
The programme involves running surveys with secondary school pupils to take a snapshot of teenage life in their local area. The surveys are confidential and ask the pupils about their school and home life and how they spend their free time - including whether they use drugs and alcohol. The surveys also ask pupils about activities they would like to do at school or in their local area.
Local groups and services then work together to address the needs and issues raised by the pupils in the surveys.
By listening to local children about how they spend their time, the issues they face and what they are interested in, we believe Planet Youth in Scotland can help us learn how to help all young people in Scotland to become ambitious, versatile and resilient.
How does it work?
We've teamed up with Planet Youth and five public sector organisations to deliver the surveys across 13 secondary school communities in Scotland:
Our partners are forming local coalitions to address what we learn from the surveys and respond to the needs of our young people. It’s too early to say exactly what that will involve, but may include:
helping young people get involved in positive, confidence-building activities, like sport, music and art.
stopping or delaying them taking part in ‘risky’ behaviours like drinking alcohol or smoking.
helping families to spend more time together – having meals, talking and doing activities and
bringing children and their families closer together with their school and the wider community.
Young people are at the heart of Planet Youth in Scotland. As well as inviting them to share their experiences and opinions in the surveys, we will ensure that young people's voices are heard loud and clear in the design and development of any proposed solutions.
As a partnership, we strongly believe Planet Youth in Scotland can help us create the conditions that will allow young people to lead fulfilling lives and feel supported by their family, school and community. This in turn will empower our young people to make positive, informed decisions relating to their health, lifestyle and education.
What's happening now?
Surveys of 1,827 pupils across the 13 schools were processed and analysed confidentially by Planet Youth in Iceland in 2021. The partnership received confidential, localised reports (one for each school) to pinpoint the needs of young people in their respective communities.
A Scottish feasibility study was conducted by the University of Stirling, stating: The findings highlight the desire for higher prioritisation of universal primary prevention activities in Scotland, driven by concerns about high rates of substance use and related harms, and a general lack of effective and evidence based prevention activities across the country. There was support for the IM [Icelandic Model] as long as it was culturally appropriate and properly funded. Participants were clear that if the IM were introduced in Scotland, it would need to be piloted in several areas first.