Ounce of Prevention

Reality Education—A Prescription for Change

I am not a doctor or a pharmacist, yet each week, I (along with a other staff) administer a dose of strong medicine—a dose of reality education. I am the Coordinator of Sunnybrook’s P.A.R.T.Y. Program—a reality-based injury prevention program for teens.
Reality education is not new. In fact, it has been at Sunnybrook in the form of the P.A.R.T.Y.for over 20 years–and here it used as a way to heighten awareness around behaviours and attitudes that may lead to traumatic injuries in young people. It is hard-hitting, real and for some, it is a bitter pill to swallow.
Yes, there can be side effects. Some include nausea, vomiting, fainting, crying, anxiety. Recently, one of our participants got very angry—angry that we used real graphic examples from trauma cases. She felt that we shouldn’t be allowed to scare the teens. Her reaction and every reaction is acknowledged and treated with sensitivity. With each reaction, we examine things like: What could have elicited such a strong reaction? Was there something that was there before and was awakened by these images? Is it because their illusion of invincibility has been shattered? Some of the students ask us “Do we need to be so “real”?” We are constantly weighing the side effects against the desired outcome. The desired outcome seems to always come out on top.
There are very few contraindications: Not effective with those who feel they are immortal, invincible or superheroes–the delusional need not attend.
Effectiveness: The program has been proven effective. Our written feedback, teacher, student and parent testimonials and our longitudinal research have all shown the program to be effective in changing behaviours that could lead to injury.
Reality education— though tough to swallow at times, is a prescription for change and I believe it is just what the doctor ordered.
For more information on the P.A.R.T.Y. Program, visit our website www.partyprogram.com

About the author


Injury Prevention Team