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Grant helps expand counselling for substance abuse at every high school in the region

A one-year $144,700 Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Fund grant will go toward support for substance use and addiction services for youth aged 12-17 in Hastings and Prince Edward counties.

Officials from the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB), joined MPPs Todd Smith (Bay of Quinte) and Ric Bresee (Hastings, Lennox Addington) for the announcement last week.

This funding will be used to support ‘Kairos’, a counselling service which specializes in treatment for youth experiencing any level of substance use or misuse, personally, or with a family member.

“The approach to working with youth is based on a harm reduction model,” said Shawn Quigley, Executive Director of the Youth Diversion. “Program Counsellors assist young people to identify and set their own action goals related to their substance use that may be having a negative impact on their lives. ”

“With this funding from the Resilient Communities Fund, Youth Diversion is working with local school boards to ensure counsellors are in place to meet increasing demand. This program will make a tangible difference in students’ lives,” said Smith.

“While there have always been addictions challenges, we have certainly seen increases over the past few years, and we have also seen that there needs to be many different services for different situations,” added Breese. “With the Youth Diversion program, and the funding that enables it, we will see a wide variety of service providers partnering and working cooperatively to provide the right services in the right places.”

“HPEDSB is fortunate to continue partnering with Kairos to support students. A by-product of the pandemic was an increase in substance use and addictions, resulting in more supports needed for students,” said Ken Dostaler, Superintendent of Student Services. “HPEDSB social workers, social service workers, and child and youth workers are available during the school year to provide holistic, inclusive support to students in all schools. The new funding will allow us to offer Kairos counselling services to more students and is a tremendous asset for students, families and school teams.”

Dostaler noted the HPEDSB appreciates the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

“The harm reduction strategies provided by Kairos counsellors will help to reduce negative consequences associated with drug use and assist students to create better balance in their lives and focus on their schoolwork.”

Funding from the United Way HPE and from the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board has also supported the Kairos substance use and addiction service in four local high schools but the COVID pandemic highlighted the need to increase the resources. With the addition of the OTF grant, Kairos substance use and addiction counsellors will be in every high school in Hastings and Prince Edward counties.

“Working with our community partners such as AMHS HPE, Youthab, Children’s Mental Health Services, Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society, HPE Public Health, North Hastings Children’s Services, St. Leonard’s Community Support, Prevention, and Residential Services,
Tsi Kanonhkhwatsheriyo Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team and both local school boards, we are enhancing the existing substance use and addiction services addressing the gaps caused by COVID,” said Quigley.

As an agency of the government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations, last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund.

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