Alcohol and Young Girls Evaluation

The purpose of this one-time $25,000 funding in 2019, was to support the community sector to create ways to tailor youth programming specifically to young girls (grades 7-12) with the goal of increasing resilience and reducing harmful drinking behaviours. This initiative was informed and guided by research evidence through McCreary Centre Society, which suggests that protective factors (e.g. connection to community and a focus on individual strengths) are associated with a reduced likelihood of substance use among young girls, including as a way to cope with life challenges.

An external evaluation carried out by the McCreary Centre Society concluded that the CAI Alcohol & Girls funding initiative had a significant positive impact on the young girls who participated and achieved overall project goals.

Click below to read the fulsome report:

Alcohol and Young Girls Evaluation Report (2021) McCreary

Click below to read the Summary Infographic:

Click here to view the infographic in full size


Goal #1: 

To increase resilience


  • The facilitators were seen as a strength of the project, in that they were positive role models for the girls. For example, they modelled strength and resilience.
  • Most reported their mental health and spiritual health improved quite a bit or very much, as did their self-confidence, sense of competence (feeling they were good at something), and hope for their future.
  • Many grantees added that the friendships endured after the project ended and the girls continued to support one another, including with managing their alcohol use.
  • Elders’ involvement helped participants to feel more connected to their culture and community.
  • Most youth reported that their ideas were listened to, they were involved in something meaningful, and they also gained skills that will help them in the future.

Goal #2: 

To promote overall health and wellbeing
  • Participants were also introduced to healthy activities as alternatives to alcohol use, and they talked about wanting to take part in those activities again.
  • Many of the girls appreciated attending sessions on a regular basis because it offered some consistency in their lives, and they had few opportunities to otherwise take part in activities or connect with others.
  • Some grantees whose projects supported Indigenous girls said their sessions started with a talking circle and a smudge and involved participants sharing their experiences and expressing empathy toward one another.
  • Connections that developed among project participants helped to create a sense of community that felt more like a family.

Goal #3: 

To develop healthy coping skills
  • Participants were taught ways to cope with challenges or stressors in their lives that did not involve the use of alcohol.
  • Most youth survey respondents reported enhanced healthy coping and refusal skills because of their involvement in the project.
  • Some grantees said that participants gained skills in communication, setting healthy relationship boundaries, stress-management and self-care.

Goal #4: 

To improve capacity to make informed choices
  • Participants who were not currently involved in alcohol or other substance use, but were at risk of using substances, seemed to benefit from these sessions because they learned about the possible harms of alcohol use and binge drinking, and about harm-reduction strategies.
  • The healthy discussions about using alcohol and other substances, through a harm-reduction lens, helped participants to think about their own substance use, including why they might be drinking and how to stay safe.
  • Participants were supported to gain refusal skills or to recognize risks and to drink more safely if they chose to drink.

Goal #5: 

To reduce harmful drinking behaviours
  • The discussions the girls had through their involvement in the project helped to increase their awareness of issues relating to alcohol use, to destigmatize mental health and substance use challenges, and to encourage them to access help if they needed it.
  • Rather than telling participants to not drink, they discussed ways to reduce risk of harm if the girls chose to drink (e.g., ensuring someone they trusted was with them and avoiding binge drinking).
  • 92% of grantees who completed a survey indicated that youth participants developed healthier views on alcohol use because of their involvement in the project.
  • Others were certain that the project supported girls to reduce their alcohol consumption and added that it supported some girls to enter a treatment program.