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Youth Cannabis Awareness Program



The Youth Cannabis Awareness Program (YCAP) offers free programming to youth aged 12 to 24, as well as adults (parents/guardians and professionals) involved in the lives of youth. Informed by protective factors contributing to youth mental health, YCAP provides a multi-faceted approach to increase knowledge and skills supporting positive youth development.

YCAP takes a harm reduction approach and does not make value judgments regarding recreational cannabis use. The program aims to minimize risks associated with cannabis use by providing youth, and adults involved in youth’s lives, with the most accurate and unbiased information.

YCAP is a free education and prevention initiative funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program and delivered by the YMCA of Greater Toronto across Canada.

Did You Know?



Youth have the highest prevalence of cannabis use in Canada. Cannabis use during adolescence increases the lifetime risk of developing a substance use disorder and may amplify existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychosis. It can also trigger functional and structural changes to the developing brain, which can influence memory, concentration, thinking, learning, handling emotions and decision-making. The stigma associated with youth cannabis use may also prevent some youth from seeking support.

Heavy handed, fear-based messaging and abstinence-only approaches have been ineffective at preventing problematic cannabis use and cannabis-related harms to youth. Providing a non-judgmental environment where young people can learn and talk about the facts related to cannabis use, supported by a trained facilitator, has proven to be more effective at reducing harms. This approach has been effective for youth who are at different points along the spectrum of cannabis use. Youth, parent, school and community engagement that incorporates a harm-reduction lens helps provide additional protective factors for positive youth development.

Supporting Healthy Youth Development

YCAP’s work in the community supporting healthy youth development includes:

  • Awareness Raising Activities:
    Educational programming in French and English for youth ages 12 to 24, as well as adults involved in youth’s lives. Content of workshops/webinars are developmentally appropriate and interactive. Activities can be booked individually or as part of a series. Book a workshop
  • Youth Engagement Projects:
    Adult-youth partnerships creating positive change through the development of youth initiatives, promoting youth expression and community action related to youth cannabis use.
  • Youth for Youth Digital Media Contest:
    An annual peer-to-peer youth engagement initiative empowering youth between the ages 15 to 24 to raise awareness about youth and cannabis use through a media competition. Learn more
  • Community Involvement Projects:
    Events planned and implemented in collaboration with local organizations to promote community awareness and involvement in issues related to youth cannabis use.
  • Parent Engagement Initiatives:
    Projects addressing parenting skills relating to cannabis use prevention, and the knowledge and strategies to promote active, collaborative and non-judgmental dialogue between parents and youth.
  • School Engagement Initiatives:
    Supporting schools with implementing initiatives that create a supportive environment for youth. Community bonds contribute to the prevention of risky behaviours among youth and school plays an important role in mediating the ties and friendships amongst peers and their parents.
  • Youth Cannabis Knowledge Hub:
    An online hub for youth, young adults, parents, and professionals providing evidence-based information and resources in English and French, including self-guided educational modules about recreational cannabis use. The hub aims to increase knowledge and skills related to reducing the harms of cannabis use and preventing problematic use. Learn more
  • Youth Cannabis Awareness Partnership Committee:
    Representing a group of professionals with a common interest to advance the domain of professional practice in the cannabis awareness field by networking, learning and knowledge sharing, providing fresh insights, collaboration and stimulating innovation around youth cannabis awareness. To join YCAP’s partnership committee in your province, connect with YCAP’s Education and Awareness Coordinator in your province.
  • Youth Advisory council:
    Youth Advisory Council: The YCAP Youth Advisory Council is a national advisory council of youth volunteers that represent Canada's youth voice and perspective pertaining to the YCAP initiative and its prevention and education programming. Youth members engage in leadership opportunities related to reducing the harms of youth cannabis use across the country. Contact us to learn more and join YCAP’s Youth Advisory Council, or fill out an application.



Help and Support

YCAP provides participants with information and referral to treatment services and other community support services/resources available for problematic cannabis use. By making this information available, individuals who might require such help gain awareness of resources without the need to disclose in front of their peers.

Learn more



Get Involved with YCAP!

To book a workshop, access a youth engagement opportunity, join YCAP’s Youth Advisory Council or partnership committee, collaborate on a community project, or any general inquiries, please contact ycap@ymcagta.org or connect with YCAP’s Education and Awareness Coordinator in your province.