The Sunnybrook researchers combed through data from a 10-year period, randomly matching 1,281 former P.A.R.T.Y. participants with an equal number of non-participants, all the while keeping four variables in mind (same age, gender, residential area and initial year in Ontario’s driver’s license database). There were fewer traumatic injuries in the P.A.R.T.Y. group – 43.3 per cent vs. 47.4 per cent. This means non-participants were at a 22 per cent greater risk of a traumatic event.
“These results show us that exposing teens to this kind of learning has tangible benefits and applicability in the real world,” says Banfield. “It is very rewarding to release these findings during the 25th year of the program.”
P.A.R.T.Y. benefits more than just its target audience. The speakers also get something out of it, Elton says. “It turned out to be really cathartic for me. I hadn’t really talked much about what happened – just sort of kept it inside.” But by opening up to students, Elton found he was willing to share more of his story.
David, who has witnessed his share of trauma as a police officer, also describes P.A.R.T.Y. as a bit of a healing mechanism. Informing youth about the consequences of risky behaviour “helps us get the pieces of our life back a little bit. It doesn’t fix it, but it does help.”
With well over 120 P.A.R.T.Y. Program sites in Canada and around the world, the program shows no signs of slowing. The intention, Banfield says, is to have P.A.R.T.Y. operating in every lead trauma hospital in the country within five years and to double the overall number of sites where it is delivered.
Banfield and her team are also looking to evolve the program’s delivery model so that it can be presented outside of hospital settings in an effective way. “Not everybody can come to the hospital,” she notes. “What else can we develop that is pretty close to what we have here, but doesn’t take as many resources and allows us to cover off all the high school students?”
Certainly, a bright future is in store for P.A.R.T.Y., which can only mean a brighter future for program participants who will be less likely to take dangerous risks and suffer tragic consequences.