Funding granted for new local initiative

Imagine Campbell River: Growing Better Together is an initiative designed to increase a sense of community in Campbell River

Imagine an even better community.

Launched by the John Howard Society of the North Island along with many other local social service agencies, Imagine Campbell River: Growing Better Together, is an initiative designed to increase a sense of community in Campbell River.

The initiative focusses on resiliency training, which means training people to deal with stressful issues in their lives in a positive way and passing resiliency onto others in the community to improve mental health overall.

Project coordinator Erin Dusdal said prolonging first time substance use for youths is one of the aims of the initiative, but it’s really about mental health in the community for people of all ages.

“When you’re looking at mental health it’s on a huge spectrum,” explained Dusdal.

“It’s not just the diagnosis of depression or the medication people are on or anything like that, it’s how people cope with stress in their everyday life.”

The project also focusses on long term prevention rather than treatment.

“It takes time but I really believe in prevention, and I really feel passionately that that’s the key,” said Dusdal.

“You start implementing strategies and let people do it for themselves.”

The project received $178,394 from the Community Action Initiative (CAI), and Campbell River was one out of seven communities in the province to receive funding, while nearly 100 applied.

Althoug- many local social service agencies, like Campbell River Family Services, Aboriginal Child and Youth Mental Health, and Reaching In Reaching Out, are already involved, Dusdal will present the initiative to city council on Sept. 13 to see if the City will come on board as well.

The 18-month project, which ends in Dec. 2012, starts with an awareness campaign using things like local radio stations, events, and social media to spread the word about what the project is, and teaching people simple resiliency skills. According to Dusdal, these skills can be as straight forward as sincerely asking a neighbour how their day was, or chatting to a stranger when out and about.

The next phase of the project is an ambassador program, which starts in October. It’s a “train the trainer” program called ‘seeds of resilience,’ where social service providers will be trained so they can pass the knowledge along to others in the community, according to Dusdal.

“What we’re trying to do is spread this message about resiliency, and get into these people that are already doing good work and have them implement it,” said Dusdal. “That way it spreads out much further than just this project.”

School District 72 is also involved, and grade 11 students from Carihi and Timberline Secondary Schools, will participate in a workshop, then use what they learnt to train grade eight and nine students from Ecole Phoenix and Southgate Middle Schools.

Resiliency training will also be provided to volunteers in the community later on the project, which Dusdal estimates will be in about six months.

According to Dusdal, people already have resiliency skills; the project will just help strengthen and spread them.

“It’s not about looking at weaknesses or difficulties, it’s really about focussing on the future and building the strengths that people already have,” said Dusdal.

For more information, contact Dusdal at erin@jhsni.bc.ca.