Press/Media

Selected articles
about EPIC’s programs
and community involvement

December 4, 2015

Breakthrough members work together to help each other, their community

The Cape Breton Post’s Nancy King interviews Stephanie Rich, Breakthrough participant

Stephanie_article_large

Our blog post about the article. More about Breakthrough and the Breakthrough Hunger event.

May 21, 2015

Government Strengthens Supports for Youth at Risk

Department of Community Services


May 21, 2015 12:46 PM
Youth at risk are getting more help to improve their lives through the expansion of two successful youth programs announced today, May 21, by Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard.

The Youth Outreach Program is receiving $250,000 for five new outreach workers based in Dartmouth, Truro, Kentville, Whitney Pier and East Preston. The position in East Preston will be the first in an African Nova Scotian community. Another $25,000 will go to the Educational Program Innovations Charity (EPIC) Youth Peer Centre in Sydney.

“This next generation is the future of our province and every young person deserves support to develop their full potential,” said Ms. Bernard. “We’re expanding the reach of community partners that are deeply committed to engaging with youth.”

Outreach workers support youth who may be experiencing multiple social, emotional, economic and family challenges. They connect youth with much needed community supports and help them to succeed and reach their full potential. This brings the total of youth outreach workers in the province to 13.

The grant to EPIC will support the recruitment and training of volunteers. It will also fund a study into the program’s impact on participating youth. Increasingly, EPIC is working with high-risk youth. EPIC’s Breakthrough program focuses on developing greater resiliency.

“It’s very busy at our location and we’re working more and more with older youth,” said Margaret MacLeod, program co-ordinator at the Whitney Pier location. “A youth outreach worker will allow us to provide more support to those in need, while expanding our facilities to create a unique space for them.”

Partner agencies are essential in the delivery of the Youth Outreach Program. They include the Boys and Girls Club in north and east Dartmouth, the East Preston Family Resource Centre, the Canadian Mental Health Association in Truro, the Portal in Kentville and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cape Breton — Whitney Pier.

October 2014

bluenose-intactOct2014-v3

Bluenose Insurance Brokers approached the Intact Foundation on behalf of the EPIC Youth Peer Program and were granted a $5000 Donation.

EPIC Youth Peer Program is an after-school peer tutoring and mentoring program, serving the youth of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for the past eleven years.

The Intact Foundation is an integral part of their commitment to our communities in which we live and work. The Foundation funds endeavours for Canadian Communities such as ours, by encouraging independence and strength-of-mind among youth at risk.

Pictured above, from left to right: Darren MacNeil – Regional Branch Manager for Bluenose Insurance, Sylvia Dearing, Youth Peer Co-Director, Delores Feltmate, Youth Peer Co-Director, Lynne O’Neill, Youth Peer Co-Educator and Jody Dakai – Owner/President of Bluenose Insurance Brokers.

December 9, 2013
Donner Canadian Foundation Awards Press Release announcing EPIC’s win of the overall William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services for the second time.

February 2013
Barry Waldman is awarded the Tom Miller Human Rights Award by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Read the full Cape Breton Post article: Barry Waldman, Tom Miller Award, 5 Feb 2013

2013
$5000 Donated to Youth Program

2012-Intact-Foundation640x400
Bluenose Insurance Brokers approached the Intact Foundation on behalf of the EPIC Youth Peer Program and were granted a $5000 Donation.

EPIC Youth Peer Program is an after-school peer tutoring and mentoring program, serving the youth of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality for the past eleven years.

The Intact Foundation is an integral part of their commitment to our communities in which we live and work. The Foundation funds endeavours for Canadian Communities such as ours, by encouraging independence and strength-of-mind among youth at risk.

Pictured above, from left to right: Barry Waldman – founder of EPIC, Jody Dakai – Owner/President of Bluenose Insurance Brokers, and Mike Hebb – Regional Branch Manager of Intact Insurance.
November 2012

News Release
Seven non-profit agencies receive Donner Awards and share of $60,000 prize money for excellence in delivering social services

November 8, 2012
For Immediate Release
TORONTO, ON—Seven non-profit social service agencies from across Canada were recognized as the best-run in the country and shared $60,000 in prize money at the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services Wednesday in Toronto.
Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville of Brockville, Ontario won the $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services, the award for the highest-performing agency overall. Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville also won the award in the Services for Seniors category, which came with a $5,000 prize.
The $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management went to Educational Program Innovations Charity Society of North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Every year, this award is given to a non-profit organization with a consistent record of excellence and innovation in the management and delivery of services. Educational Program Innovations Charity Society also took home the award in the Services for Children category, which came with a $5,000 prize.
Five other organizations shared the remaining $25,000 in awards in various categories, listed below. Additional information is available at www.donnerawards.org.
“These expertly managed non-profits have improved the communities they operate in, helping countless families and individuals nationwide. We’re pleased to recognize their outstanding work,” said Jason Clemens, Fraser Institute executive vice-president.
The Donner Awards are Canada’s largest recognition program for non-profit social service agencies, established in 1998 to recognize and encourage best practices in non-profit management and increase public confidence and support for Canada’s non-profit sector. The awards are administered by the Fraser Institute on behalf of the Donner Canadian Foundation.
This year, 554 non-profit social service agencies from across Canada applied for the awards. Participating organizations were ranked on their performance in 10 key areas, including management and governance, the use of staff and volunteers, innovation, program costs, and outcome monitoring.
“The Donner Awards recognize non-profit organizations that excel in service delivery despite their limited budgets and resources. Canadians can be sure that organizations considered for a Donner Award are responsibly managed and are doing their utmost to help their communities,” Clemens said.
The Donner Awards evaluation protocol was established with input from the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy (now Imagine Canada), the Canadian Cancer Society (B.C. & Yukon Division), the Trillium Foundation, and Family Services Canada.
-more-
Donner Awards 2012 winners—page two
2012 Donner Award recipients
The $20,000 William H. Donner Award:
William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services
Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville (Brockville, ON)
Community and Primary Health Care exists to provide universally accessible and comprehensive primary health care and community support services in the promotion and building of a healthier community. Its eleven sites across Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville offer a wide range of community and health services for the region’s diverse population.
The $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award:
Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management
Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (North Sydney, NS)
Educational Program Innovations Charity Society is dedicated to helping self-motivated youth who lack the resources or support system to enhance their education. Founded in 1996, this organization offers after-school programs for students as well as an ongoing parenting workshop that provides parents with practical tools and a safe place for discussion.

The seven $5,000 category awards:
Counselling / Crisis Intervention
Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre (Calgary, AB)
Education
Elephant Thoughts (Collingwood, ON)
Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse
Servants Anonymous Society Surrey (Surrey, BC)
Provision of Basic Necessities
Alice Housing (Dartmouth, NS)
Services for Children
Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (North Sydney, NS)

Services for People with Disabilities
Community Living Campbellford/Brighton (Campbellford, ON)
Services for Seniors
Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds and Grenville (Brockville, ON)
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Donner Awards 2012 winners—page three
Visit www.donnerawards.org for more information about all the winners.
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CONTACT:
Jason Clemens
Executive Vice-President, Fraser Institute
Tel: (604) 714-4591
E-mail: jason.clemens@fraserinstitute.org
The Donner Canadian Foundation is dedicated to supporting projects that emphasize self-reliance, individual initiative, and independence. For more information, visit www.donnerfoundation.org.
The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 85 think-tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org
Follow the Fraser Institute on Twitter | ‘Like’ us on

March 2012
Bluenose Cash for your Cause! Winner March 2012
epic-youth-cropped_bluenose
And the winner of the third Bluenose Insurance Brokers Cash for your Cause! for March is… EPIC Youth Peer Program! Congratulations to EPIC Youth Peer Program, all the organizations that took part, and thanks to the all the people who voted.

December 2011

News Release
Seven non-profit agencies earn Donner Awards and share of $60,000 prize money for excellence in delivering social services
December 5, 2011
For Immediate Release
TORONTO, ON—Seven non-profit social service agencies from across Canada were recognized as the best-run in the country and shared $60,000 in prize money at the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services Friday in Toronto.
Servants Anonymous Society of Surrey, British Columbia and Community Living Campbellford/Brighton of Campbellford, Ontario shared the $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services, the award for the highest-performing agency overall. Servants Anonymous also won the Award for Excellence in the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, which came with a $5,000 prize. Community Living Campbellford/Brighton also took home the $5,000 Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Services for People with Disabilities.
The $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management went to Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville, located in Brockville, Ontario. Every year, this award is given to a non-profit organization with a consistent record of excellence and innovation in the management and delivery of services. Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville also took home the Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Services for Seniors, claiming another $5,000 prize.
Four other organizations shared the remaining $20,000 in awards in various categories, listed below. Additional information is available at www.donnerawards.org.
“All of the winning organizations have made great strides to enrich their communities. The work they carry out so effectively and efficiently has helped countless individuals and families, and for that they deserve to be recognized for excellence,” said Niels Veldhuis, Fraser Institute director of non-profit studies.
The Donner Awards are Canada’s largest recognition program for non-profit social service agencies, established in 1998 to recognize and encourage best practices in non-profit management and increase public confidence and support for Canada’s non-profit sector. The awards are administered by the Fraser Institute on behalf of the Donner Canadian Foundation.
This year, 591 non-profit social service agencies from across Canada applied for the awards. Participating organizations were ranked on their performance in 10 key areas, including management and governance, the use of staff and volunteers, innovation, program costs, and outcome monitoring.
“The Donner Awards recognize non-profit organizations that excel in service delivery despite their limited budgets and resources. Canadians can be sure that organizations nominated for a Donner Award are responsibly managed and are doing their utmost to help their communities,” Veldhuis said.
The Donner Awards evaluation protocol was established with input from the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy (now Imagine Canada), the Canadian Cancer Society (B.C. & Yukon Division), the Trillium Foundation, and Family Services Canada. These awards represent an important step in the development of an objective, quantifiable measure of performance for non-profit organizations.
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Donner Awards 2011 winners—page two
2011 Donner Award recipients
The $20,000 William H. Donner Award:
William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services
Joint recipients:
 Servants Anonymous Society (Surrey, BC)
The SAS Surrey program is a participant-centered approach to recovery for female youth and women who choose to seek sobriety, exit the sex trade, or are at risk of being sexually exploited due to abuse, addiction, or homelessness. Servants Anonymous Society is a first-time finalist and recipient this year.
 Community Living Campbellford/Brighton (Campbellford, ON)
Community Living Campbellford/Brighton envisions a diverse community that respects the dreams and aspirations of all its members. Its mission is to provide support and services to people with disabilities, promoting opportunities for personal growth within their community.
The $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award:
Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management
 Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville (Brockville, ON)
Community and Primary Health Care exists to provide universally accessible and comprehensive primary health care and community support services in the promotion and building of a healthier community. Its eleven sites across Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville offer a wide range of community and health services for the region’s diverse population.
The seven $5,000 category awards:
Counselling / Crisis Intervention
• London Crisis Pregnancy Centre (London, ON)
Education
• Saskatchewan 4-H Council (Saskatoon, SK)
Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse
• Servants Anonymous Society (Surrey, BC)
Provision of Basic Necessities
• Alice Housing (Dartmouth, NS)
Services for Children
• Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (North Sydney, NS)

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Donner Awards 2011 winners—page three
Services for People with Disabilities
• Community Living Campbellford/Brighton (Campbellford, ON)
Services for Seniors
• Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds and Grenville (Brockville, ON)

November 2010

News Release
Seven non-profit agencies earn Donner Awards and share of $60,000 prize money for excellence in delivering social services
November 5, 2010
For Immediate Release
TORONTO, ON—Seven non-profit social service agencies from across Canada were recognized as the best-run in the country and shared $60,000 in prize money at the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services Thursday in Toronto.
Educational Program Innovations Charity Society located in North Sydney, Nova Scotia took home the $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services, the award for the highest-performing agency overall. The organization also won the award for excellence in the delivery of services for children along with a $5,000 prize.
The $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management was presented to Alice Housing of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Every year, this award is given to a non-profit organization with a consistent record of excellence and innovation in the management and delivery of services. Alice Housing was also named the winner in the provision of basic necessities category, claiming another $5,000 prize.
Five other organizations shared the remaining $25,000 in awards across various categories, listed below. Additional information is available at www.donnerawards.org.
“These winning organizations constantly demonstrate the highest level of efficiency and responsibility in every facet of their work, and for that they should be commended, both locally and nationwide,” said Niels Veldhuis, Fraser Institute director of non-profit studies.
The annual Donner Awards, sponsored by the Donner Canadian Foundation and administered by the Fraser Institute, recognize and reward excellence in program provision by non-profit organizations across the country. Canada’s largest recognition program for non-profit social service agencies, the Donner Awards are unique in providing participating non-profits with valuable performance information that ranks them relative to similar agencies in their field.
In 2010, 514 non-profit organizations from across Canada submitted 544 applications for the awards. The winners were selected based on a ranking of their performance in 10 key areas, including management and governance, the use of staff and volunteers, innovation, program cost, and outcome monitoring. A complete list of all award winners is provided below.
“Non-profit social service agencies make indispensable contributions to the health and wellbeing of Canadians from all walks of life. The Donner Awards strive to not only celebrate and reward the accomplishments of outstanding organizations, but also encourage greater accountability in the non-profit sector,” Veldhuis said.
The Donner Awards evaluation protocol was established with input from the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy (now Imagine Canada), the Canadian Cancer Society (B.C. & Yukon Division), the Trillium Foundation, and Family Services Canada. These awards represent an important step in the development of an objective, quantifiable measure of performance for non-profit organizations.
-more-
Donner Awards 2010 winners—page two
2010 Donner Award recipients
The $20,000 William H. Donner Award:
William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services

Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (North Sydney, Nova Scotia)
Educational Program Innovations Charity Society is dedicated to helping self-motivated youth who lack the resources or support system to enhance their education. Founded in 1996, this organization offers after-school programs for students as well as an ongoing parenting workshop that provides parents with practical tools and a safe place for discussion.

The $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award:
Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management

Alice Housing (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)
Alice Housing provides 19 second-stage affordable housing units and supportive programs for women, with or without children, who have experienced family violence. Founded in 1983, Alice Housing has helped more than 900 families leave the devastation of domestic abuse and supported them in their quest for family stability and safety.
The seven $5,000 category awards:
Counselling Services / Crisis Intervention
• Sarnia Lambton Rebound: A Program for Youth (Sarnia, ON)
Education
• Saskatchewan 4-H Council (Saskatoon, SK)
Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse
• Fresh Start Recovery Centre (Calgary, AB)
Provision of Basic Necessities
• Alice Housing (Dartmouth, NS)
Services for Children
• Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (North Sydney, NS)

Services for People with Disabilities
• Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada – Calgary and Area Chapter (Calgary, AB)
Services for Seniors
• Community and Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds and Grenville (Brockville, ON)
Visit www.donnerawards.org for more information about all the winners.

September 23, 2009
Donner Foundation Announces 2009 Finalists for the Donner Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services, including the Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (EPIC)

August 2, 2007

Canada’s best-run non-profit agencies announced as finalists for Donner Awards and $70,000 prize money


VANCOUVER, BC – Twenty-eight non-profit agencies from across Canada have been identified as being the best run in the country and are in the running for $70,000 in prize money as finalists for the 10th annual Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services.

The Donner Awards are Canada’s largest non-profit recognition program, established in 1998 to recognize and encourage best practices in non-profit management and to increase public confidence and support for Canada’s non-profit sector. The awards will be presented October 19th at a special 10th anniversary celebration of the Donner Awards in Toronto. Additional information is available at www.donnerawards.org

“People across Canada rely on non-profit social service agencies for a huge array of programs and services. That reliance means the agencies have to ensure they manage their resources in a fiscally sound manner so they can provide for their clients’ needs,” said Sylvia LeRoy, program manager for the Donner Awards and Director of The Fraser Institute’s Centre for Social Policy Studies.

“Programs like the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services give non-profit agencies a chance to share ideas and identify best practices in non-profit management and social service delivery while offering them a chance to win cash awards and recognition.”

This year, more than 600 non-profit programs from across Canada applied for the awards. Participating organizations are ranked on their performance in 10 key areas, including management and governance, the use of staff and volunteers, innovation, program cost, and outcome monitoring.

The top organization in each of nine categories of social service delivery will win $5,000 awards while the $20,000 William H. Donner Award for Excellence will be presented to the highest performer overall.

The Donner Awards newest honour, the $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management, will be presented to a non-profit organization with a consistent record of excellence and innovation in management and delivery of services.

Listing of 2007 Donner Award Finalists (by category)

  • Alternative Education
  • Continuing On In Education (Belleville, ON)
  • Sarnia Lambton Rebound (Sarnia, ON)
  • Teen-Aid Southwest Inc (Swift Current, SK)
  • Child Care Services
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Peterborough (Peterborough, ON)
  • Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (North Sydney, NS)
    The Children’s Garden Nursery School (Pembroke, ON)

    Counselling Services

  • Community Living Campbellford/Brighton (Campbellford, ON)
  • Hospice Of Waterloo Region (Kitchener, ON)
  • Sudbury Action Centre For Youth (Sudbury, ON)
  • Youth Services Of Lambton County Inc. – Huron House Boys’ Home (Bright’s Grove, ON)
    Crisis Intervention

  • Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre (Calgary, AB)
  • Canadian Mental Health Association For The Kootenays (Cranbrook, BC)
  • Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention Centre Of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
  • Services for People with Disabilities
  • British Columbia Association of People Who Stutter (White Rock, BC)
  • Multiple Sclerosis Society Of Canada – Calgary Chapter (Calgary, AB)
  • Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (Burnaby, BC)
    Services for Seniors

  • Alzheimer Society Of Thunder Bay (Thunder Bay, ON)
  • Calgary Meals On Wheels (Calgary, AB)
  • Community & Primary Health Care – Lanark, Leeds & Grenville (Brockville, ON)
    Prevention & Treatment of Substance Abuse

  • Fresh Start Recovery Centre (Calgary, AB)
  • InnerVisions Recovery Society Of BC (Port Coquitlam, BC)
  • Simon House Residence Society (Calgary, AB)
  • Sudbury Action Centre For Youth (Sudbury, ON)
    Provision of Basic Necessities

  • Alice Housing (Dartmouth, NS)
  • Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank (Calgary, AB)
  • Inner City Home of Sudbury (Sudbury, ON)
    Traditional Education

  • Cornwall Alternative School (Regina, SK)
  • John Knox Christian School (Oakville, ON)
  • Trenton Christian School Society (Trenton, ON)

CONTACT:
Sylvia LeRoy, Program Manager, Donner Canadian Foundation Awards
The Fraser Institute, Tel: 688-0221 ext.523
Email: sylvial@fraserinstitute.ca
The Donner Canadian Foundation is dedicated to supporting projects that emphasize self-reliance, individual
initiative, and independence. For more information, visit www.donnerfoundation.org.
Established in 1974, The Fraser Institute is an independent public policy organization with offices in
Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Tampa Bay. For more information, visit www.fraserinstitute.org

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March 18, 2006

CAPE BRETON POST
by Debbie Gwynn

Youth Teaching Youth
High school and university students volunteer as tutors
cape breton post photograph © 06 debbie gwynne

An after-school tutor/mentoring program for students ages eight to 18 is celebrating 10 years of dedication to the advancement of youth in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

First started in 1995 by the Island Community Justice Society, the Youth Peer program since 1998 has been under the management of the Educational Program Innovations Charity Society, a registered charity dedicated to the advancement of marginalized youth and young adults.

EPIC along with a management team of 22 community organizations including, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Cape Breton Regional Police, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, Nova Scotia Addiction Services and many other agencies refer youth to the peer program, which in turn matches the children up with a volunteer tutor/mentor.

Volunteers consist of high school and university students, recruited, screened and trained by Youth Peers director Barb Donovan.

“The tutors are trained in what is called peers on peers, a tutoring model, also a learning difficulties model, ” said Donovan.

“I train them on reading, writing and math but I focus a lot of my attention on emotional literacy, which is where the mentoring part comes in.”

Students who needs help academically are matched with slightly older peers who have been trained to help them with homework, home study packages, G.E.D. preparation, studying for exams, or even to teach them to get better organized—whatever they need.

Two part-time assistants are available from 3-6 p.m. each day to oversee the 15 tutor/mentor matches.

Children begin arriving at the Ashby Complex any time after 2:30 p.m. where they are provided with healthy nutritious snacks.

From 3:30-4:30 p.m. the youth are paired on to one with their tutor/mentor and they spend the following hour on their studies.

The study hour is followed by a mentoring session, where the students are instructed in activities from art—drawing, sketching and painting to music, including individual guitar and drum lessons.

The centre also provides board and card games and computers with internet access (no chat lines).

“the whole idea behind the montoring portion of the porgram is to build up their self-esteem, develoip interpersonal skills, to give them the confidence to feel good about themselves,” said Donovan.

Over 60 students and as many volunteers take part in the program on a weekly basis.

Cathy MacKenzie of Sydney has two children a 10-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter in the Youth Peers tutoring program.

MacKenzie’s son was having some difficulty with language arts and her daughter with math. both have shown remarkable improvement in the time they have spent in the tutoring program.

“My daughter was failing math when she started here, her math marks are now in the 80s.” said MacKenzie.

Another mother equally as excited about the Youth Peers program is Marie Russell from Sydney, who has two daughters in the program, one 11 and a 17-year-old.

“The kids love it here,” said Russell.

“My youngest daughter’s marks are in the 80s and 90s and my eldest daughter who started the program when she was in Grade 8 was bringing home marks in the early 60s and she is now getting high 70s and some 80s.”

Evaluations done over the years on youth taking part in the program have shown the students have come up at least one and one half to two grade levels.

Academics say the reason the students advance so high, so quickly is because of the intense, concentrated one on one tutoring.

“It’s a very happy atmosphere, very cozy, comfortable and inviting,” said Donovan.

“We focus a lot in our training on being very positive and showing the students a lot of respect,” said Donovan.

“The kids keep coming back because they feel they belong here.

At any given time we have children on the waiting list, we could probably fill four centres.”

Donovan noted that there have been some great success stories with the volunteer tutors as well as the students.

“Some have gone on to become teachers, youth workers, they’ve gone on to study criminology, psychology and some are in the process of obtaining a Ph.D.”

Funding for the program comes from the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia and the National Crime Prevention Centre.

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November 11, 2005

CAPE BRETON POST
by Nancy King

Peer program offers help for parents

Workshops deal with everything from sex to self-esteem

Sydney— Parents wondering how to approach difficult issues with their children can turn to a series of ongoing workshops for some guidance.

The Youth Peer program workshop topics range from talking to children about sexually transmitted diseases to nutrition, building the parent-child relationship, self-esteem building and budgeting.

Jean MacAdam, program coordinator, noted the program started off by offering tutoring to young people.

“They noticed that there was a need, that parents were asking for information, so they decided to try it last year,” she said.

The program was launched to a good response last year and has been expanded to an extra day each week this time around in an effort to reach parents who can only get away during the day and it was opened up to all parents of school-age children.

The issues covered in the sessions were identified by the parents, MacAdam noted. Parents can attend any of the session that interest them.

There will be an opportunity for parents to brainstorm future topics for the program.

There are no fees and registration is not required.

The sessions are held Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Youth Peers Program at the Ashby Complex on Whitney Avenue, and Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Harbourside Elementary on Church Street in Whitney Pier.

They continue until Dec. 8 and will begin again Jan. 3.

There is some assistance with transportation available. For more information, call 539-8226

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April 12, 2005

CAPE BRETON POST
by Nancy King

Support staff strike forcing organizers to move several programs

Sydney

The strike by Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board support staff is forcing at least one community organization to relocate its programs for the duration of the dispute.

Barry Waldman, supervisor with the Educational Program Innovations Charity, said the board advised the group to temporarily move the programs it offers at schools in the region to avoid crossing picket lines, as 1,400 CUPE bus drivers, teachers’ aides, maintenance workers and others continue to strike.

“We went scurrying around to see if we could keep the program going,” Waldman said.

Ordinarily, the youth peer program, where youth tutor and mentor 65 at-risk students each day after school, takes place at the Ashby Complex above the Southside Learning Centre on Whitney Avenue, Sydney. Beginning on Monday, it is operating at St. George’s Church Hall until the strike ends.

The parents PEACE program, which helps parents dealing with troubled children, moved temporarily to the Salvation Army’s Youth resource Centre, April 7, and will stay there as long as permitted, until the strike is resolved, It assists parents in dealing with issues [sic] learning disabilities, mental health issues, substance abuse, legal concerns and community services that may be available.

Moving the programs means EPIC must now pay rent in order to offer the services, so Waldman said he’s hoping for a swift resolution to the dispute., although he said that is a relatively small challenge for the organization.

“We’re accustomed to having curve balls thrown toward us, we’ve never had core funding of any kind, so we’re always trying to figure out how to keep things going,” he said.

The program is jointly managed with 16 other local partner agencies. EPIC approached some of those groups to determine whether they might have space available, but Waldman noted the nature of the one-on-one tutoring program requires a certain amount of privacy for the participants. It was important to keep the tutoring available despite the strike, Waldman said.

“You lose momentum, anytime you have Christmas break or March break or anything like that, kids get out of the routine of coming and they’re less likely to stay in motion for that,” he said.

Board spokesperson Stacey Pineau said that attendance at schools throughout the region Monday stood at about 53 percent, up from 40 percent Friday. Health inspectors are continuing to randomly inspect schools.

Mountainview Elementary reopened Monday after an injunction allowed the board over the weekend to correct a sewer problem which forced its closure last week. The injunction also limits picketers to four per school exit and restricts picketers from preventing parents, students and teachers to come and go as they wish.

However, both Riverview High School in Coxheath, and Memorial High School in Sydney Mines, were shutdown until further notices, starting today. They board believes the current conditions at both schools are unfit for occupancy. They will remain closed until supervisory staff are able to clean them.

The board has no plans to close any other schools, unless a health issue arises that requires it, Pineau said.

Seniors board officials were meeting Monday to develop a plan for delivering curriculum updates and homework packages to students who are not attending class.

“The board is quite concerned about how to help these students keep up with their school work,” Pineau said.

Thursday, CUPE Local 5050 will hold a strike support rally at Steelworkers Hall in Sydney. It will feature CUPE national president Paul Moist; Rick Clarke, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour; and NDP Leader Darrell Dexter.

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June 2004

VOLUNTEER CANADA E-zine Article

The Youth Peer Transformation Project could be described as a small program with a big heart. Based in Sydney, Nova Scotia, this program is all about youth assisting other youth who are “at risk”. The project is the brainchild of the Educational Program Innovations Charity Society (EPIC) who primary goal over the last eight years has been the advancement of marginalized learners.

The target group for the Youth Peer Transformation Project is youth who have been identified as “at risk” by one or more agencies, such as mental health services, Children’s Aid, or addiction services. Close to half the referred youth, who range in age from 8 to 18, have been in trouble with the law and many have been referred by regional police and probation officers.

The roots of the program are largely academic. It began as a tutoring program for kids who were approximately three years behind in school. The tutoring program, once run part-time by retired teacher volunteers, was successful in gaining some positive results—but when youth volunteer tutors were recruited full-time, some real magic began to surface. Results skyrocketed beyond anyone’s wildest expectations and staff members knew immediately that they were on to something really good.

The program works like this. A total of 14 agencies partner with the project and refer at-risk youth to the program. All of these agencies have representatives on the program management team and provide valued perspective. Thirty-six youth volunteer tutors are matched with 61 participating “at-risk” youth. At times, a wait-list has been generated but generally all those wishing to participate are able to find a place.

They youth who participate do so voluntarily and are under no obligation. They come on designated nights, once per week and are matched with a youth volunteer, usually just a couple of years older than themselves. The program runs on weeknights from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. in an old school complex. After a brief social time as participants arrive and get settled, a full hour of one-on-one tutoring takes place during which students can get help with homework or other tasks such as resume development or math and writing skills. The tutoring session is followed by a refreshment period—staff, volunteers and students mix and mingle and enjoy nutritious snacks from a well-stocked table (often the first good food many of these kids have had all day!). The social time also provides an ideal opportunity for good social skill development and modeling, important added benefits for students in the program. The last hour of the program is devoted to art and music—participants can choose to either take instruction in guitar (about half do this) or work on arts projects led by a teacher who involves the students in both individual projects and an ongoing collective mural project with a specific theme.

An innovative initiative has grown out of the Youth Peer Transformation Project that demonstrates how this program keeps on giving! The young volunteer tutors in the program found that time and time again they were faced with specific challenges presented by the types of problems their charges were experiencing. Many of them were coming to staff with the same questions. “How do I speak to someone with an eating disorder?” “What should I do if I notice someone has purposefully cut their arms?” “Where can my student get help if he is suicidal?” Out of this was born the idea of creating the Community Youth Volunteer Empowerment Toolkit—a resource developed by and for youth volunteers and composed of a series of helpful articles on topics related to “at risk” youth.

The toolkit project was originally conceived as a constructive activity to keep tutors from feeling frustrated when their matched youth didn’t show up. However, with attendance in the program hovering above 90 per cent, it didn’t quite evolve that way. Nonetheless, the toolkit project generated incredible enthusiasm within the volunteer tutor group with a total of 19 signing up for the necessary research and writing—even though the work was done on their own time and had to fit into busy personal schedules. The resulting resource is composed of 24 articles on subjects as varied as phobias or teenage pregnancy. The articles provide insight into the nature of the problem. outline helpful strategies for coping and provide a listing of places to go for help and more information. The toolkit comes in a three-ring binder format so that it can be easily added to by subsequent authors and will be distributed to other organizations whose volunteers may face similar situations.

Barry Waldman, supervisor of the Youth Peer Transformation Project, says that the beauty of this program is its ability to provide such fulfillment and benefit to all involved. “We come together as one large, slightly weird, unusually supportive family and it’s very gratifying,” says Waldman. The Youth Peer Transformation Project was funded by the Community support Centre of the Canada Volunteerism Initiative, the National Crime Prevention Centre, the RBC Foundation, and the Cape Breton Disabilities Partnership.

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May 3, 2004


CAPE BRETON POST
by T.J. Colello
Peer tutors create tool kit to assist in mentoring students

© t.j. colello cape breton post 2004

The local creators of a peer tutor tool kit hope their work will be used by others across the country.

Barb Donovan, director of the Youth Peer Transformation Program, said the Community Empowerment Tool Kit was developed by the tutors under the direction of volunteer resource developer, Rachelle Wilson.

The kit was sponsored through the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative of Volunteer Canada.

“We would match students up with tutors and there were times the students wouldn’t show up,” said Donovan. “Rather than waste the tutor’s time and send them home…we came up with this idea so when they’re here and the students wouldn’t show, they had something to work on.”

The topics covered int he kit were brainstormed and researched by the tutors themselves. Some include alcoholism, anger management, attention deficit disorder, body image, dyslexia, obsessive compulsive disorder and self-esteem.

“We have high school students and university students volunteer to come in and work with the kids,” said Donovan. “Their concern was if during the course of their tutoring, a kid starts to talk about these kinds of issues or if they pick up that these kids suffer from alcoholism or are doing drugs, how did they deal with that.”

The 36 tutors worked on the project from October until April. The final product has been submitted to Volunteer Canada to be used as a model for other volunteer organizations.

“I think this should be in every volunteer organization that works with kids,” said Donovan. “It’s important that people to [sic] see that volunteers are recognized.”

“instead of just coming in, tutoring and going home, they can have a part in it.”

Tutors are trained before they begin in peer progress and learning difficulties training. So far this year, they have put in 2,300 hours of volunteer time this year with students aged eight to 18, with up to 60 students a week.

The tutors, however, don’t just give educational help.

“We look at the whole person thing, we try to build up self-esteem and confidence,” said Donovan. “It’s much more than (education).”

The program operates with 14 partners that refer students for the extracurricular help. One of those partners, the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board, donates the space at the Ashby Complex.

Funding comes from Volunteer Canada, National Crime Prevention Centre, Cape Breton Employability Partnerships, and the RBC group.

“There are tutors out there, but it’s expensive to hire one,” said Donovan. “A lot of the kids here wouldn’t normally go to a private tutor.”

“We don’t force anyone to come or to stay, so the kids feel they’re a part of it because we get them to sign a contract with us.”

Nineteen-year-old Emily King of Sydney is in the bachelor of arts in community studies at the University College of Cape Breton. She said she has been doing volunteer work as a part of her schooling since September.

King said she wanted to work with youth and chose the tutoring program.

“I wanted to go into social working, so this was the first type of experience with tutoring and mentoring,” she said. “I learned all kinds of stuff—I’ve never really interacted with this age group.

“It taught me communication skills and how to interact with them.”

King said she was proud to be a contributor to the tool kit and hopes it will be used nationally.

“It’s easily formatted in point form and easy to use,” she said. “It’s a lot of information on a wide variety of topics.”

One of the students in the program, 14-year-old Jillian Holmes of Sydney, said she comes for help in math and science after school.

She felt that it was hard to get extra help in a classroom with so many other students and liked the one-on-one tutoring program.

“It helps a lot—even when they don’t understand what they’re doing, they’ll ask.” said the Sherwood Park Education Centre student. “I’ve found my grades have really improved in math.”

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May 8, 1999

CAPE BRETON POST
Special Report
by Laurel Munroe

cape breton post photograph


Breaking down barriers

Peer Literacy Project also works against racism

The EPIC Peer Literacy Project is much more than an after-school homework assistance program.

The project, which oversees four peer learning centres in Cape Breton County, sponsored an antiracism workshop last month at the Membertou Sports Complex.

Young people from the Membertou, Eskasoni, Whitney Pier and Ashby peer literacy centres facilitated the event, attended by more than 100 youth and 40 adults from the four communities.

Peer Literacy Project program director Barb Donovan says the evening was a first-of-its-kind event.

“We were so pleased that the youth from all four communities cam together and really wanted to know one another,” she says. “They all wore anti-racism pins and they were running around at the end of the night getting names and phone numbers.”

Participants separated into four groups to discuss causes and dfinitions of racism, prejudice and discrimination.

In the end, they shared what they had learned.

“The big thing was how we as individuals can combat racism,” Donovan explains. “Everyone in their groups talked about things like racist jokes, for example, how to empower ourselves to find the courage to say ‘this is not acceptable’.”

Several ideas on combatting racism arose from the workshop. Suggestions included: holding more such workshops; educating educators; taking action against discriminatory advertising; eliminating dependence on government; encouraging positive minority role models; demanding equaitly in hiring processes; treating people as individuals; and celebrating differences.

“This was just the beginning,” notes Donovan. “We’re going to compile this information and use it to move forward.”

The anti-racism workshop grew out of a movement by the project this year to encourage the young people at its centres to think of them as safe havens.

“We start out doing tutoring but it becomes so much more.”

In its day-to-day operations, the project matches fully trained senior high school students with younger students who are at risk of academic failure due to poor literacy skills.

The program is run by the Educational Program Innovations Charity (EPIC), which took over as managing partner in 1998.

The Peer Literacy Project was initiated in 1995 by the Island Alternative Measures Society (IAMS), which recognized a link between youth in conflict with the law and poor academic performances, says Donovan. The first peer learning centre was located at Sydney Academy before moving to its present home in Ashby.

After a couple of years, “they recognized that no black kids and very few native kids were accessing the program,” Donovan says.

The Black Educators Association and EPIC cam on board and the Canadian Heritage-Multiculturalism and Justice departments joined the National Literacy Secretariat as funding partners. The cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is also a project partner.

In 1997, three new outreach centres opened: in Whitney Pier, Membertou and Eskasoni.

This year, the IWK Health Centre Foundation agreed to fund a special program for elementary age students with learning disabilities.

To date, more than 300 junior high and elementary students have received help with their academic and literacy skills through the centres.

Junior high students must be referred to the program by a teacher or school guidance counsellor; elementary age student may also be recommended by a local pediatrician.

“The centre co-ordinator makes an appointment to go down and see the student to make sure the young person wants to participate. They have a interview and arrangements are made for the student to be tested.” Donovan says. “The student must teast at least two grade levels below their actual grade level in school in order to be accepted; for example, if we have a Grade 8 student that’s reading at a Grade 2 level, that’s where we start with them.”

The co-ordinator matches the student with a tutor and the pair follow a 10-week lesson plan.

Donovan stresses the project is not a homework help program.

“We focus on study skills they can take with them when they leave. We haven’t seen anyone yet who hasn’t improved.”

The peer tutors are fully trained by centre staff, with emphasis on communications skills and conflict management.

“They really understand where the students are coming from: the lack of self-esteem, low confidence, (the students) feel nervous and some think they’re stupid but the tutors really try to make them feel safe and comfortable, encouraged and supported.”

Although many students who attend the learning centres are labeled as having behavioral problems in the traditional school setting, they seem to thrive in the positive, non-traditional atmosphere of the centres.

“In all four centres discipline is not a problem,” notes Donovan. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere.”

The learning centres are not all work and no play.

One evening each week is set aside for the young people to gather for workshops, forums, seminars, exchanges—or just to “hang out.”

“We went to the youth and asked them what they wanted to do,” Donovan says. “They wanted a safe place they could go and have fun and feel fee. They were open to having peopel come in and talk with them, as opposed to talking to them.”

Under the Share Literacy Program umbrella, more than 300 tutors were trained in local schools and community groups interested in starting their own peer tutoring services. A Web site (http://thebrain.cebnet.ns.ca/peerlit)was developed which enabled the peer literacy model to spread to a larger geographical area.

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1999

Preventing Crime Through Social Development
Bulletin No. 2
Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD)

Building a Safe Haven: A dialogue with youth and elders for a crime-free community


A Nova Scotia project funded by the NCPC’s Community Mobilization Fund has shown dramatic results in improving teens’ academic performances and their behaviour, according to Barry Waldman, a member of one of the sponsoring groups. Safe Haven is a continuation of a highly successful program called the Peer Literacy Project which began in Sydney in 1995 and continues to offer peer tutoring, cultural activities, and sessions where youth and adults jointly explore perceptions of crime, safety, racism and community.

The project began when staff from four Peer Literacy Centres met for cultural sensitivity training. They then organized cultural activities which allowed youth to speak openly with other concerned community members and elders about unresolved community issues.

Soon, it evolved into cultural activities held one night each week in the Whitney Pier Black community and in the Mi’kmaq communities of Membertou and Eskasoni. About 55 people with literacy and behavioural problems also meet one-on-one with peer groups tutors. Together with elders from two First Nations communities and a black community, the youth have explored perceptions of crime, safety, racism, community, and ways to build a safe haven in their Cape Breton communities.

One by-product of this project was a crime prevention workshop organized by project staff and facilitated by Peer Literacy students and tutors. The workshop brought together people working in social agencies, education and law enforcement, such as members of the Unamaki Tribal Police, Mi’kmaq Young Offenders Program and community members from Membertou to develop collective crime prevention strategies. As a direct result of this workshop, community justice committees were formed in both the Black and Mi’kmaq communities, with a mandate to transform their ideas into plans of action. Continuing the work on this project will move Safe Haven beyond the discussion stage towards greater involvement of youth who are at-risk and an expanded support network to promote crime-free communities.

The six partners in the project include Island Alternative Measures, Educational Program Innovations Charity(EPIC), Black Educators Association, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, Membertou Education and Eskasoni School Board. EPIC plays an administrative role, and its directors include representatives from the First Nations, Black and White communities. Barry Waldman, Supervisor for EPIC says that, “Almost 90% of the students in the first Safe Haven session have asked to come back again. White youth in other literacy centres have also asked to be included in the next Safe Haven project, and this should result in a student and tutor total of 200 youth.”

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