The health of Quebec’s students is at stake when the Fondation Jean Lapointe’s sixth annual 28 Days Sober Challenge gets under way on February 1.
Open to anyone across Canada, people are sponsored to abstain from alcohol for the whole month, raising money for workshops with high-school students across the province that promote the prevention of alcohol, cannabis and other drug use.
The Fondation has set itself the goal of reaching $500,000 in sponsorship and the participation of nearly 10,000 people.
Those undertaking the challenge – or wishing to sponsor someone - can register on the event’s website and gain access to content that enables them to see the impact of their actions on a local level.
This year, people can choose between three levels of sobriety: bronze (Monday to Thursday), silver (Friday to Sunday) and gold (the entire month).
Elisabeth Poirer-Defroy, communication consultant for the Challenge, said the event has gone from strength to strength since its inception.
She said: “The foundation was looking at different ways to raise money for its programme because they hold workshops in high schools everywhere in Quebec to help the youth and prevent them from suffering addiction, mainly for drugs and alcohol. To provide those programmes, we need more money every year because the demand is increasing everywhere.
“Six years ago they launched the first 28 Days Sober Challenge. It was actually a guy who was challenging his friend to do 28 days in February without alcohol. The foundation heard about it, mixed it up a little bit, and this is how the 28 days Sober Challenge was born.”
Poirer-Defroy said February is soon enough after the festive period for people to want to detox, while she also joked that it was the shortest month of the year.
On a serious note, though, the movement said the statistics back up their mission to make a long-term difference to the young people of Quebec and society as a whole.
She said: “We have done some studies that have shown that the prevention has really worked. If you look at the proportion of students above 12 years old, the number who have tried alcohol before 12 years old has lowered. In 2010-11, there was 10% and just two years ago they were 6%.
“It’s a long-term thing but we have seen that there’s less and less use of drugs and alcohol because we know that the sooner young people consumer alcohol or drugs, the easier they can get addicted.”
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