'High risk' message
Students to address peers about risky behaviour

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 15/99) - A Fort Smith man trained in social work, together with two teenagers who helped make an international award-winning video on AIDS, will visit Fort Liard next week to speak out about high-risk behaviour.

Bernice Hardisty, the community health representative with Deh Cho Health and Social Services, has arranged for Gary Adkins and two Fort Smith high school graduates to give a presentation to students at Echo Dene school and to the public.

"I wanted to do something on HIV and AIDS, so I was thinking it would be better to bring someone in rather than me just talking," explained Hardisty, who visits the school frequently and does presentations herself.

She said she believes that fellow students may have a greater impact on local youth.

"They can open up easier to their peers," she said. "I viewed their video and they're very good."

Adkins, who is trained in critical incidence stress debriefing, said the presentations will include a showing of their video Point of Death. The subsequent discussion will focus on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C and any questions audience members may have. Drug abuse, the sharing of needles and suicide will also be addressed.

"This whole project was like 90 per cent done by the youth," Adkins said of the video, which was funded by Health and Social Services.

Hardisty had brought in a motivational speaker on the topic before -- James Raven with the "Feather of Hope" in Vancouver -- but that was when she began on the job in 1992, she said. Students in Fort Liard, like those everywhere, could benefit from being reminded to be careful of the choices they make and avoid risky situations, Hardisty said. She also has an open door policy at her workplace.

"I talk to students about this all the time. They're more than welcome to come over to the health centre and get some pamphlets off me, or ask any questions they'd like to ask," she said. "I always encourage them to come over. We are here."