THUNDER BAY – “From a public health perspective, upstream primary prevention initiatives such as the Youth Violence Prevention Project are integral to improving health and wellbeing in communities. We are excited to be coordinating the implementation of a comprehensive school-based program, focused on healthy relationships, targeted to teenagers in the Thunder Bay District. We value the commitment of our many local and provincial partners to this evidenced-based program and to their participation in adapting and delivering it in our Northern context. Our combined experience and a formal evaluation of this initiative will inform future interventions and ensure the long term sustainability of this work,” says Dr. Janet DeMille, MOH & CEO, TBDHU.
The TBDHU is grateful to have received $995,000 in funding, over 5 years from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to implement the Youth Violence Prevention Project through-out Thunder Bay and District. This exciting initiative provides the capacity to implement a school-based, skills-focused, healthy relationship program aimed at preventing teen violence and related risk behaviours for Grade 7-9 youth in our region.
Project partners include:
- Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council
- Thunder Bay Drug Strategy
- Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research
- Lakehead District School Board
- Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board
- Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique des Aurores Boreales
- Northern Nishnawbe Education Council
- Matawa Learning Centre
- Superior Greenstone District School Board
- Superior North Catholic District School Board
Together we will deliver the Fourth R, an evidence-based program that addresses the Grade 7-9 Ontario Health Curriculum with units on:
- Personal Safety & Injury Prevention
- Substance Use, Addictions and Related Behaviours
- Human Development and Sexual Health
- Healthy Eating
The Fourth R applies a youth-focused, harm-reduction strategy to empower students with the knowledge, positive relationship skills and decision-making abilities to target the unhealthy behaviours and attitudes that contribute to teen violence perpetuation and victimization. Other innovations include creating a youth-informed Booster module for Grade 10 students and enhancing the Grade 9 Indigenous Informed version to reflect our Northern context.
The funding also includes the opportunity to work with the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research to evaluate the project, so we can learn through the process about what works or doesn’t work in teen dating violence prevention and programming. Other project highlights include building sustainability by training local educators to become Fourth R Master Trainers and participating in a national Community of Practice to learn from other funded projects and share knowledge about the primary prevention of violence.
If we implement and evaluate the Fourth R in schools throughout our district, we anticipate that there will be positive and sustained changes in attitude, knowledge, skills and behaviours among staff and students and we will increase the capacity in schools to implement healthy relationships programming. In the long-term, we hope to reduce teen dating violence and gender-based violence in Thunder Bay and District, which will ultimately improve community safety.
In response to the recommendations released in the Community Perspectives & Perceptions on Violence, Impacts & Prevention Opportunities Report (2017), in January 2018, an expression of interest was sent to the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding the Preventing Gender-Based Violence: the Health Perspective Teen/Youth Dating Violence Prevention funding opportunity. In June 2018 the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (lead agency) and Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council and the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research were invited to submit a full application for funding. The proposed Youth Violence Prevention in Thunder Bay and District project was successful in receiving funding of $995,111 over 5 years.
- Intimate partner violence rates in Thunder Bay are among the highest in Canada (Thunder Bay Police Services, 2017), disproportionately affecting women and girls ages 12-24, especially Indigenous women and girls (Status of Women, 2013)
- Primary prevention strategies are needed to address this serious public health concern
- Comprehensive, evidence-based school programming is a best practice strategy to provide youth with the education and skills needed to prevent violence perpetration and victimization
- This initiative employs a harm reduction, strengths-based approach that empowers adolescents and builds resilience
- PHAC is contributing $995,111 to support this crucial project