Youth program gets addiction foundation’s first grant

An after-school program that encourages teens to make healthy lifestyle choices and say no to drugs is available to John Barsby Community School students for the next year, thanks to the Nanaimo Addiction Foundation.

An after-school program that encourages teens to make healthy lifestyle choices and say no to drugs is available to John Barsby Community School students for the next year, thanks to the Nanaimo Addiction Foundation.

The foundation received more than $300,000 last year to give to agencies providing addictions services in the community. It plans to become a long-term, grant-distributing organization working to raise money and awareness about addictions issues in the community.

For the past year, the foundation decided to focus on youth addiction issues and announced intentions to give a grant to a youth-related organization. The foundation also organized an educational event in February, which brought more than 100 community members and professionals to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

Foundation president France Tellier said Nanaimo Family Life Association is the foundation’s first grant recipient and funds will go towards the new Elements After School program at John Barsby.

“We’re looking forward to the successes they will make with the young people they are working with,” she said.

At the group’s annual general meeting Thursday (May 25), the board will present the grant and talk about funding and education priorities for the 2011-12 year, which will focus on addiction treatment for any age.

“We’re going to leave it broad,” said Tellier.

While the foundation plans to give out $30,000 each year for at least the next five years, including this year, she said Nanaimo Family Life’s proposal fit the organization’s criteria best and $13,000 was the requested amount.

The board has not decided how to give out the remaining funds from this year’s $30,000, Tellier added, but it could go toward the next grant-giving process.

“Those funds will be allocated in our community,” she said.

The foundation plans to host a week-long training and education conference in November for professionals and interested community members focusing on addiction treatment options, Tellier added.

The annual general meeting takes place May 26 at 7 p.m. at John Howard Society’s headquarters, 1585 Bowen Rd.

Tellier said anyone interested in learning more about the foundation’s work is welcome to attend.

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Nanaimo Family Life program

A new program for Harewood teens will give youth opportunities to embrace their creative side while teaching them life skills.

Nanaimo Family Life Association’s Elements After School program at John Barsby Community School uses arts activities to cover topics such as self-esteem, healthy choices, boundaries and relationships, said Yvonne Vander Kooi, program coordinator.

Funding for the program, which started last month and is scheduled to run for a year, was provided by the Nanaimo Addiction Foundation.

Students meet twice a week after school to talk about issues while doing culturally relevant art projects, from stencilling to art graffiti to hip hop lyric development and videos.

Vander Kooi said the program takes what she calls a back door approach to dealing with drug and alcohol use.

First, it provides students with something to do after school until dinner time – a time when experimentation might occur.

“It does seem to be a time when a lot of kids don’t have anything to do,” she said.

Elements also helps youth deal with the issues they struggle with that often lead to misuse of drugs and alcohol, such as self-esteem, identity and relationships, said Vander Kooi.

The program is run by two child and youth care workers and can take up to 15 youth at a time.

Staff talk to the school’s teachers and counsellors about youth who might benefit and students can also refer themselves, said Vander Kooi.

The program is under the umbrella of the Life Works program, which is also a skills resiliency program for youth with a creative activity focus.

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