Windsor RSL, have thrown their full support behind a new community driven initiative, Not Even Once; designed to empower youth to say NO to drugs.

The program, funded by Windsor RSL, involves incredible efforts from officers at the Hawkesbury Local Area Command and the team at One80TC, a not for profit charity organization dedicated to overcoming the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse on young men and women. The Not Even Once (NEO) Drug Demand Reduction program was introduced to high school students within the Hawkesbury Local Government area during November, and is the first implementation of the program in New South Wales. The team hopes to see a roll out of the initiative taken Statewide in the near future.

Supported wholeheartedly by local community and businesses, Hawkesbury Local Area Command held a Principals Forum in July with seven high school representatives from the region. Tanya Cavanagh, Executive Director of Teen Challenge made the case for a campaign promoting total abstinence from drug use, but most persuasive was a presentation from a young student, Darcy who shared his story of overcoming drug addiction with the assistance of the Teen Challenge with One80TC.

NEO focuses strongly on the importance of protecting both the developing brain and body during this second most important phase of human development. Unfortunately, the ever increasing message being conveyed to our youth is the idea that substance use is inevitable, a negative approach that disempowers youth by making them feel that they do not have a choice in the matter. The truth is that there is no level of 'safe' alcohol and other drug use during the adolescent phase and so key learning and understanding of what informs best practice health, safety and activity for the developmental phase is a key element of curriculum.

Teen Challenge is currently presenting NEO to the public and private schools in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Recent evaluations have shown that 84% of the sample indicated their likelihood to use illicit drugs or alcohol was unlikely following participation in the program. Of the sample of those that indicated they were likely or very likely to use drugs before the seminar, 20.68% indicated a positive shift away from using illicit drugs and alcohol after participation.

NEO was established by Teen Challenge Tasmania in collaboration with the Dalgarno Institute, Victoria, to promote the importance of protecting both the developing brain and body during human development. The curriculum has been developed within the framework of the Australian Curriculum and is delivered in primary and secondary schools, as well as community forums.