Eva’s Initiatives provides safe shelter, training, counselling and a wide range of innovative programs and services to help homeless and at-risk youth reach their potential to lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives. With cutting-edge services and distinctive programming, Eva’s offers a continuum of service not available anywhere else in Canada. Locally Eva’s operates three unique shelters, which house and feed 114 youth aged 16-24 each night. Nationally, Eva’s works to build innovative and long-term solutions to youth homelessness.

Eva’s Satellite, located in Toronto, is the first youth shelter in Canada for homeless and at-risk youth who use illicit drugs and alcohol.  The shelter provides emergency shelter and services to up to 32 youth, ages 16 to 24 residing in the Greater Toronto Area.  These youth may have lost access to other shelters and services as a result of behavioural problems or substance use.

Launched in August 2010, the Youth Action to Reduce Drug Use (YARD) Project was designed by Eva’s Satellite to respond to the need for an intervention that takes into account the unique factors that place homeless and street-involved youth at greater risk for substance use.  Funded by Health Canada’s Drug Strategy Community Initiatives Fund (DSCIF), this three-year project aimed to reduce illicit drug use among street-involved and homeless youth through the provision of a comprehensive and collaborative program of health education, peer training, recreation, and skills development.

Project Summary

Eva’s Satellite’s Youth Action to Reduce Drug Use (YARD) project is an innovative and effective response to a growing crisis among street-involved and homeless youth. Illicit drug use is rampant, with 95% of homeless/street-involved youth reporting having ever used drugs (PHAC, 2007). Traditional prevention and treatment services have proven to be inaccessible and ineffective for this population. YARD aims to reduce and prevent illicit drug use by providing a comprehensive program comprised of recreation, health education and a supportive system of care that includes shelter, peer support, primary health-care and psychiatric services.

The primary objectives of the project were: to provide healthy recreation alternatives to reduce illicit drug and alcohol use and facilitate the development of community belonging, a sense of self-worth, coping skills and healthy lifestyle choices among the youth of Eva’s Satellite; and to develop and share an innovative and effective drug and alcohol reduction program model for homeless and street-involved youth.

There are numerous and specific activities of the project, with recreation and health education at the core:

  • Facilitated drop-in recreation program with diverse set of activities that included sports, fitness, games and theatre ran three evenings per week in our gymnasium.
  • Health education workshops focused on healthy living through fun and interactive games and activities, ran twice per week.
  • Community outings to events and celebrations, weekly stress-management classes, daily fitness class, peer training and skills development opportunities.

The project also had a Project Advisory Committee who supported the project by providing health, referrals, mental health supports and education to the program. The advisory committee also consisted of youth.  Input from the advisory was provided via phone meetings, group supervisions, emails, one on one consultations and debriefing sessions.  Both the peers and the participants were supported through bi-weekly case conference discussions that included youth service workers, housing workers and harm reduction staff and through consultations with the on-site psychiatrist and physician.

The secondary objective of this project focused on evaluation and dissemination of findings requiring us to hire an evaluation consultant to assist us in creating a logic model and the evaluation tools that were used throughout the project. Focus groups, surveys and interviews were held with participants, staff and community partners. The consultant also provided support for the development of the manual, focusing on lessons learned and best practices, which will be shared with youth service organizations across Canada.

The results of the project on the youth participants was a  reduction of drug use, an enhanced sense of self-worth, community belonging and coping skills for both the peers and participants in this project.  The project also resulted in an increased knowledge and practice of healthy living, stress management strategies and the development of skills that enhance resiliency and leadership qualities.  We saw greater participation in sports, fitness, arts and leisure activities, as well as a reduction in crime and nuisance behaviour in the immediate neighbourhood.  Participation in the project motivated and prepared a number of youth to return to the education system, to find employment and to move to living independently in the community. Furthermore, the project has also raised awareness and increased dialogue on the issues impacting  homeless and at-risk youth on a national level, helping in both the development and support of effective program model that address illicit drug use amongst this population.

The key outputs for this project were the following:

  • a roster of youth-chosen recreation activities
  • a set of outlines of fun/interactive games and activities that engage youth while providing facts on drug use, teach healthy living strategies, youth-specific stress management modules
  • a multi-disciplinary case management model
  • project evaluation tools
  •  a project manual and
  • a model of an effective drug-reduction program for homeless and street-involved youth.

At the end of the project, we will present and disseminate our evaluation report and manual as a program model that can be replicated in other communities across Canada with homeless and street-involved youth.  The dissemination process includes the posting of documents on our popular website and sharing our findings at relevant conferences and workshops.  Eva’s Initiatives is well situated to share our findings across Canada through our National Initiatives program and our participation in the national Learning Community.  The YARD project manual and model will be accessible through the National Initiatives Program, and through the National Learning Community.

Project outcomes are lasting, with skill development among participants, staff and community partners. The impact of the project on enhancing self-esteem, increasing coping skills and resiliency will carry the youth into adulthood and assist them in leading self-sufficient and productive lives. Sustainability will also be accomplished through sharing our findings and program model with youth serving agencies across the country.

All young people can benefit from having a home with a yard where they can play, learn and grow.  For homeless and street-involved youth, the streets are their ‘yard’.  Satellite’s YARD project provided our youth with a welcome respite from the streets providing them a safe place to play, learn and grow.

Background information

Eva’s Satellite provides shelter and support to homeless youth (16-24) who are using illicit drugs. Often, these youth have lost access to other shelters and services due to their substance use. Eva’s Satellite is committed to helping our youth move towards independence and self-sufficiency in the community. Central to that goal is the task of preventing the progression to more frequent or regular drug use. The YARD project is a carefully designed, evidence-based, innovative drug reduction and prevention program.

Illicit drug use is widespread among homeless and street-involved youth.  Rates of drug use reported by street youth in Toronto are far greater than those of their housed counterparts (City of Toronto, 2004).   Findings from the Enhanced Surveillance of Canadian Street Youth, 1999-2003 (PHAC 2007), found that 95% of street-involved youth have used illicit drugs. In a study done by YOUTHLINK Inner City (March 2004), of the sample of Toronto street youth surveyed 84% had used alcohol, 84% had used marijuana, 60% used crack/cocaine, 41% used prescription pills and 37% used methamphetamines, at least once per month.    It has been argued that most drug use among youth is a form of experimentation, with marijuana being the most commonly used substance. The reality is that for many street-involved youth, experimentation often leads to dangerous substance use problems over time, including heavy drug use, poly-drug use and injection drug use. A Canadian study with street-involved youth found that 20% of them were injecting drugs.  The study concluded that the onset of injection drug use can be prevented through comprehensive, targeted prevention programs (Roy et al, 2003).

Traditional prevention and treatment programs have often been inaccessible and ineffective for homeless and street-involved youth. Most drug education and prevention programs occur in the school system.  At Eva’s Satellite, the majority of the youth we serve are no longer enrolled in school. In Toronto, there are no youth-specific detox or residential treatment centres (City of Toronto, 2004 & 2005), making it highly unlikely that a homeless youth who is using substances will get the necessary support and assistance required to prevent future drug use or more serious forms of drug use.

At the cornerstone of the YARD project is recreation. Too often homeless and street- involved youth have limited access to recreation as most recreation programs are fee-based and the majority of services for homeless people focus on meeting basic needs such as food and shelter. The City of Toronto (2006) reports that youth have the lowest participation rate in recreation as compared to the other age groups in the City of Toronto. Satellite’s new 24 hour facility has a gymnasium; complete with a half-court for sports, audio-visual equipment and recreation supplies.  Recreation has proven to be an effective means of reducing problem behaviours among youth such as substance use, and increasing protective factors such as self-esteem, a sense community, belonging and skill development (Reid, 1994; McKay et al, 1996; Witt, 1996 Ross et al, 1999; City of Toronto, 2006).  The CPRA’s Benefits Catalogue provides extensive evidence that participation in recreation, sports, arts and cultural activities can reduce self-destructive behavior such as substance use, negative social activity, crime, racism, isolation, loneliness and alienation in youth (CPRA, 1997).

Two youth participating in a sack race outside on green grass.

Participants celebrating the first year of the YARD Project

The YARD project took a multi-pronged approach to illicit drug reduction and prevention. Along with recreation the project provided: health education, stress management, health care, mental health care, leadership development and peer support. A review of the literature on successful drug prevention/reduction programs for street-involved youth indicated that the most successful programs are comprehensive and include a variety of health promotion techniques. The YARD project incorporates the four primary principles of a strong drug reduction/prevention program: build a strong framework, strive for accountability, involve young people and create an effective process, as outlined in Preventing Substance Use Problems Among Young People: A Compendium of Best Practices (Health Canada, 2001).

Along with formal evidence from research and government publications, our own evaluations and research indicate a strong need for this project.  Satellite’s Recreation Needs Assessment, conducted in 2007 reports that 100% of the youth surveyed are highly interested in participating in recreation activities. Suggested activities include: sports, music and dance, swimming, arts and crafts, interactive and team building games and exercises, and life skills for gaining more independence. All of these activities were incorporated into the YARD project.  Other program evaluations and needs  assessments conducted at Eva’s Satellite over the years indicate the knowledge level among the youth pertaining to illicit drugs and their impact on the body, healthy sexuality, nutrition and other healthy living strategies is extremely low. There is a dire need for health education among the youth of Eva’s Satellite.

There is a sparse amount of research on illicit drug use among homeless and street-involved youth and relatively few examples of successful drug reduction and prevention programs with this population. The YARD project produced an evaluation report, a detailed description of our program model and this project manual will provide other youth-serving organizations with a set of best practices that will assist them in developing their own successful project.

Program Overview

The Peer-based Recreations program itself is made up of 12 modules that are completed roughly over a month period with 3 modules facilitated each week. Each module is described in the following sections. Once that is complete there is a work portion in which the peers use what they have learned and apply it to opportunities specifically tailored to their skill sets. Each round of peers should have around 4-10 peers, including a few advanced peers if available. Once the entire 8 weeks program is finished there is a graduation for the peers who completed both sections of the program. This program is quite flexible and can be adapted as appropriate and most of these decisions can be made by the program coordinator and should also go through the relevant channels for checks.

The work portion (4 weeks) is where the peers put what they have learned into practical situations and solidify their leadership skills, self-confidences and expertise though hands on experiences. It will be expected that peers will be facilitating events on their own and they are to uphold higher standards of practice than when in the training portion. Peers planned, organized and delivered a final celebration event, held at the end of the work portion.  This event doubles as their graduation ceremony.

Intake Interview

The intake interview is a face to face interview between the YARD project coordinator and the interested youth. The interview usually involved going through the application form questions. It is held in a private room and the conversation should remain confidential as private information could be shared through this process.

Application Form


Peer Leader

The peer leader is the entry point for youth to participate in the YARD project for those who self-identify interest in it. They will have gone through an initial interview process and completed a personal information form. They must also agree and sign off on the “Peer Code of Conduct” form of their particular session. Each group/session creates their own unique in house rules for participation and mutual respect during the training and the working sections of the program. Finally, all peer leaders have also agreed to uphold a higher standard of behavior when within the shelter facility as the program is intended to create role models for others in the Satellite community. At the very foundation, a peer leader is a participant in the YARD program and is expected to attend all meetings unless directed not to attend or pre-arranged with the YARD project coordinator.

Advanced Peer

An advanced peer is a peer leader who has already demonstrated their ability to consistently uphold the higher standards that have been expected of them as a peer leader and usually they have already gone through the YARD program at least once before. They are afforded special privileges and given more responsibilities. These include, but are not limited to, computer access to work on special projects, extra paid hours, opportunities to oversee and manage group activities and leading a module, if they have the prerequisite knowledge/skills. The advanced peer position was implemented to help give opportunities to those peers who demonstrated greater drive, initiative and ability and use it to strengthen the existing project. There is a separate application and selection procedure for the advanced peer position. Each new session has a limited number of advanced peers, usually 1 to 4, where 4 would be a rare case.



Every session concludes with a graduation for the peers who complete the program. There is a final event that is planned out by the participants in each of the session; the graduation usually is combined with it. The graduating peers are called out by name, one by one and they are presented with a certificate of their completion of the program. The certificate has the title of the program and their name (see 9.6 Appendix F).


The most obvious rationale is that the peers have tangible resources that they can use as evidence of experience and substance for career development. Also the program strives to create a positive environment that builds up its participants and that is further facilitated by recognizing achievements and successes. The graduation should be designed with celebrating the peers who completed the program in mind, it’s not its focus. It creates a sense of pride, accomplishment and worth.

The YARD program is divided into two sections, a training section and a work placement section. The training section took approximately 4 weeks to complete with three modules done a week, where one module takes approximately 2 hours. The following outlines the curriculum that was typically used in the training portion. The training sessions are both flexible and adaptive; modules can be changed around and even replaced with more applicable workshops to cater to the individual needs of a particular group.


The purpose of the first module is to introduce the peers to each other and establish the collective rules for the program. There are a few forms that need to be signed, including a consent form. Peers create their own peer binders during this session. Pre-evaluation surveys are also filled out during this module.

  • Learn/understand YARD atmosphere of mutual respect and courtesy
  • Learn effective communication skills to express needs, wants and feelings proactively
  • Learn collaborative skills to accomplish tasks, meet needs, etc.
  • Learn about their rights and responsibilities when involved with specific activities in the YARD program
  • Learn accountability and collaboration with peers in a more formal environment
  • Learn about community resources
  • All active members of the YARD project encouraged to participate
  • Established rules with the group for safety (incorporate participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Content Outline:

Icebreaker – YARD! What is it?

  • Have group come up with group guidelines and expectations
  • (add no phone use, and respect with definition to the ground rules)

What is Respect?


  • an attitude of deference, admiration, or esteem; regard
  • the state of being honoured or esteemed
  • a detail, point, or characteristic; particular: he differs in some respects from his son
  • reference or relation (esp. in the phrases in respect of , with respect to )
  • polite or kind regard; consideration: respect for people’s feelings
  • ( often plural ) an expression of esteem or regard (esp. in the phrase pay one’s respects )


  • to have an attitude of esteem towards; show or have respect for: to respect one’s elders
  • to pay proper attention to; not violate: to respect Swiss neutrality
  • to show consideration for; treat courteously or kindly
  • archaic to concern or refer to
[C14: from Latin rēspicere to look back, pay attention to, from re- + specere to look]

Hand out Project Summary for YARD

What is a peer?


peers, plural

  1. A person of the same age, status, or ability as another specified person
    1. he has incurred much criticism from his academic peers


peered, past participle; peered, past tense; peering, present participle; peers, 3rd person singular present

  1. Make or become equal with or of the same rank


The dictionary says one definition of peer is, ‘belonging to one element of society’. Within the harm reduction context, a peer is a person who has experienced situations similar to those faced by the clients an agency serves. This means a peer worker may be hired because of his/her present or past street involvement, age, sexual identity, life-situation, even specific type of substance use (just to name a few). Generally, a peer has some kind of ‘inside knowledge’ through his/her experience that can have a positive result in providing services to a particular group. In addition to experiential knowledge, peers can bring credibility and trust to an agency in ways that regular service providers may find difficult because users may distrust and avoid contact with “official helpers.” (PEER MANUAL: A guide for peer workers and agencies. Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force.)

A peer is a person who belongs to the same social group as another person or group. The social group may be based on age, sex, sexual orientation, occupation, socio-economic and/or health status, etc.

Hand out Surveys… allow 30 – 45 minutes.

Resources required:
  • Book boardroom (ideally, with table and private) or gym space (if blocked off for the duration of groups) or a quiet area
  • Multiple Handouts: Peer Contract (see 9.2 Appendix B), Peer Code of Conduct (see 9.3 Appendix C), YARD project Contract (see 9.5 Appendix E)
  • 3rd party survey (pre-surveys)

In addition to the project evaluation, a 3-5 question feedback form needs to be given at the end of each upcoming session, to gauge the effectiveness of the module.

  • Also refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

For peers to develop better understanding of what a peer is and their expected behaviours and roles after joining this group.


The objectives of this session for YARD peers are to:

  • Learn responsible behavior
  • Understand Rights and responsibilities as a Peer Leader
  • Sign forms and confirmation to participate


  • All active members of the YARD project
  • Review established rules with the group for safety (incorporating participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled halfway through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Course Outline:

Ice breaker – Team builder…

Peer Work!!! So, what is it exactly?

Hand out YARD job description and YARD Peer Contract

Review and discuss the documents, answer questions youth may have and have youth sign each document. Keep the original and photocopy one for the peer’s binder.

Hand out Yard group responsibilities sheets

(self-defense, visual arts group, morning fitness, event planning DO THIS ONE, etc.)

Review and discuss each to ensure youth understand what their responsibilities will be when they lead each activity.

Ensure youth understand the role of staff, which is to assist peers and remind them of the responsibilities for the activity they are leading/facilitating.

Hand Out ALL group forms/tracking/sign in forms

Review each form to ensure peers understand how to complete them accurately and explain the importance of having the forms completed in relation to the evaluation and the funding objectives.

Resources required:
  • Book boardroom (ideally, with table and in private) or gym space (if blocked off for the duration of groups) or a quiet area
  • Multiple Handouts: Peer Contract, Peer Code of Conduct, YARD project Contract
  • 3rd party survey (pre-surveys)
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

To educate youth with factual information about drug and alcohol use. The workshops increase the capacity of Peer Leaders to provide information and education to their peers about drugs and alcohol and engage participants in discussion.


The objectives of this session are to provide YARD peers with:

  • An overview of drug basics – such as how do drugs work, how do drugs move through the body, the effects of drug use over time, and what happens to the body when we stop taking drugs
  • An overview of addiction – what addiction is, the basics of the neural circuits of pleasure, how personality, life experience and mental illness have a role in drug addiction
  • An overview of where drugs fit into the drug classification system and the general effects that drugs in these classes have on the brain, body and behaviour (alcohol, ecstasy/MDMA, hallucinogens, inhalants, marijuana, opiates, sedatives, steroids, stimulants)
  • An opportunity to discuss the myths and stereotypes about drug and alcohol use and people with addictions
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (incorporate participants’ input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Outline and content:

Part 1- Warm Up Activity: Clearing up Stereotypes

Ask participants “what is a stereotype?”

Stereotype– A stereotype is a belief that may be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things, but that belief may or may not accurately reflect reality (for example, all police officers like donuts). Many of these misconceptions are the result of the repeated portrayal of alcoholic and drug user stereotypes in movies and books. The drama associated with these illusions is usually more interesting than the reality. The trouble with these falsehoods is that they have been repeated so often that they are believed to be true.

Let the participants know that the following exercise will help to clear up a few myths/stereotypes

Ask participants what they think of the following statements:

MYTH: If someone has passed out drunk, the best thing to do is to put them to bed and let them sleep it off.

REALITY: Someone who has passed out drunk is at risk. The amount of alcohol it takes to make someone pass out is close to the amount that will cause death. Their body will continue to process any drinks taken just before they passed out, possibly increasing their blood alcohol to the point that they may go into cardiac arrest. Also, if they throw up while passed out they could choke and die. Do not leave someone who has passed out alone. They need to be watched over until they have returned to consciousness, or until medical assistance arrives.

MYTH: Alcohol use is not as dangerous as drug use.

REALITY: Although the perception is that drug use is much more dangerous than alcohol use, every year there are many times more alcohol related deaths than there are drug related deaths.

MYTH: Addiction is primarily the result of personal and moral weakness.

REALITY: Different people have different susceptibility to drugs or alcohol. Genetics, family culture and personal choices all contribute to addiction. In addition, the effect of some drugs on the brain chemistry makes them highly addictive. It makes no difference if you are rich or poor, educated or not, moral or immoral, anyone can become drug or alcohol dependent, depending on their genetic predisposition and personal situation.

MYTH: Alcoholics and drug addicts could just choose to stop if they wanted.

REALITY: Without supports, some alcoholics or drug users can quit on their own. It is not simply a matter of will power. Think about anything in your life that you willed yourself to do – lose weight, exercise more, eat better, stop smoking, etc. – the odds are that just willing it to happen did not work for long. Without changes to living conditions, strong supports and information about how to keep off of drugs or alcohol, very few people can stop using. Recovery from addiction is a whole life change that takes treatment and support.

MYTH: Alcohol causes alcoholism and drugs cause drug addiction.

REALITY: If this were true, anyone who ever had a drink would become an alcoholic and anyone who ever used drugs would become an addict. For whatever reasons (genetics, family/environment & choices), some individuals are more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol than others.

At this point, ask youth for input: Can anyone think of any other myths or stereotypes regarding drug or alcohol use that they want to share?

Part 2 – an overview of where drugs fit into the drug classification system and how they affect the body

On the white board place the headings:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabinoids
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Club Drugs
  • Dissociative Drugs
  • Hallucinogens
  • Other Compounds

Harm reduction materials in baggies.

Ask the youth if they ever heard of these words and if they can explain anything about them (the Effects/health risks, what they do the body) without listing off any drugs that are associated with each of the categories.

  • Alcohol in low doses causes euphoria, relaxation, lowered inhibitions; in high doses, causes drowsiness, slurred speech, nausea, loss of coordination, visual distortions ( use the NIDA hand out for examples if need be)
  • Cannabinoids- euphoria, relaxation, slowed reaction time, impaired balance and coordination, increased heart rate and appetite, impaired learning, anxiety, panic attacks
  • Opioids-euphoria, drowsiness, impaired coordination, dizziness, confusion, nausea, sedation, heaviness in the body, slowed breathing
  • Stimulants- increased heart rate and blood pressure, higher body temp, metabolism, feelings of exhilaration, increased energy and mental alertness, irritability, anxiety, paranoia
  • MDMA- mild hallucinogenic effects, increased tactile sensitivity, empathetic feelings, lowered inhibition, anxiety, chills, sweating, teeth clenching
  • Club drugs- GHB- drowsiness, nausea, headache, disorientation, loss of coordination
  • Dissociative Drugs- feelings of being separate from one’s body, impaired motor function, anxiety tremors, numbness, memory loss and nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, aggression
  • Hallucinogens-altered state of perception and feelings- increased body temp, heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sweating, sleeplessness, numbness, dizziness, and rapid shifts in emotion
  • Other compounds – steroids-intoxication effects, blood clotting and cholesterol changes, hostility and aggression, acne, premature stoppage of growth, prostate cancer
  • Inhalants- loss of inhibition, headache, nausea, slurred speech, weakness, depression, wheezing/cramps, and memory impairment

(See NIDA handout acute Effects/Health risks for information on this).

Next, name various names of drugs; ask youth to name which category it goes under and then have the youth write/place them in the correct category (also using the NIDA hand out as a guide)

For example in no particular order:

  • Ketamine- dissociative
  • Heroin- opioids
  • Marijuana-cannabinoids
  • Cocaine- stimulants
  • LSD- Hallucinogens
  • Meth-stimulant
  • Inhalants-other compounds
  • GHB- club drugs
  • MDMA-Club drugs

Once this is done, ask the youth if they can think or know of any other substances and ask the group which category each would be under. For instance, hashish, opium, amphetamine, PCP, salvia, mescaline and steroids.

Hand out the NIDA-common-drug-chart-handout to participants, so they can have more detailed information

10-15 minute break

Part 3- How do drugs work? How do drugs move through the body?

Ask participants if they can list ways that drugs are introduced to the body, essentially how people get high and if they can provide an example of a drug used for each way:

  • Ingested/ Swallowed- Alcohol/ various pills, MDMA
  • Smoked-crack
  • Injected in a vein-meth
  • What about a drug that is injected in a muscle-ketamine/steroids
  • Snorted-cocaine
  • Booty Bumping

Animated Clip: Let participants know that we are going to watch a little animated clip showing three of the most popular methods of using drugs and how it works

Drugs in the body – legal drugs

  • Ingesting drugs effects on your body- clip on page 7
  • How smoking affects your body –clip on page 8
  • How injecting affects your body – clip on page 9
  • Explain the following concepts while showing the clips.

How do drugs affect the brain?

Once in the brain drugs affect chemicals called neurotransmitters. These are the chemicals that control the flow of information within the brain between the neurons or brain cells, forming a synapse. Neurotransmitters also alter people’s moods and feelings. Different drugs can affect different neurotransmitters. For example, ecstasy appears to affect a neurotransmitter called serotonin by reducing the amount of the chemical in the brain. Those people with lower levels of serotonin in the brain tend to suffer from depression and also there are concerns that taking too much ecstasy for too long might make a person chronically depressed.

How do Drugs affect the heart?

Once drugs are taken and enter the bloodstream the heart pumps blood containing the drug to the brain where it will affect how people feel.

Drugs can also have an effect on the heart directly and exacerbate heart disease. Heavy drinking of alcohol, for example, can weaken the heart’s ability to pump blood and lead to heart failure although some studies have suggested that moderate consumption may be better for the heart than not drinking alcohol at all.

Taking regular and high doses of stimulant drugs like amphetamine, cocaine/ crack, ecstasy, anabolic steroids and even possibly caffeine may increase the risk of heart attacks, especially for people who already have heart problems or high blood pressure.

The effects on the liver

The liver breaks down or alters the chemical structure of drugs, gradually neutralizing the effects of the drug.

Excessive, long term drinking of alcohol can result in damage to the liver, including cirrhosis, which can be fatal.

Suggestions that ecstasy use can damage the liver have been made but research is, so far, inconclusive.

The effects on the lungs

Because the lungs provide the oxygen directly and very effectively to the body, anything that is inhaled similarly enters the blood and ultimately the brain very quickly. This is most pronounced in drugs that are normally snorted but are chemically altered to make them easier to smoke, such as cocaine into crack and amphetamine into methamphetamine. The lungs’ ability to absorb large amounts of these drugs in a short space of time, roughly 8 seconds, mean that the effects can be almost instant and very powerful.

Some drugs can also be inhaled, such as solvents and poppers/nitrites. Solvents are absorbed into the lungs almost instantly.

Another relatively more dangerous method is insufflation. This is the method often used by asthma sufferers when using inhalers, where a fine spray is rapidly inhaled into the lungs. Done properly this method is as efficient as smoking, but safer, because it doesn’t damage the lungs in the same way smoke does. Done wrongly and it can cause permanent damage to the lungs due to the drug attacking the lungs’ cells bronchi’s, or even suffocation or overdosing, due to the drugs clogging the bronchi’s.

These methods should not to be confused with snorting (as with cocaine or amphetamine powder) which is absorbed through the thin tissue (nasal membrane) in the nose into the blood stream – though some powder can enter the lungs.

Part 4-Addiction

Ask participants if they know the difference between substance use and addiction?

The difference between substance use and addiction is very slight. Substance use means using an illegal substance or using a legal substance in the wrong way.

You can use a drug (or alcohol) without having an addiction. For example, just because Sara smoked pot a few times doesn’t mean that she has an addiction, but it does mean that she’s using a drug — and that could lead to an addiction. People can get addicted to all sorts of substances. When we think of addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people become addicted to prescription medications, cigarettes, even glue! The effects of drug use vary from person to person, particularly when individuals just start consuming certain drugs. However, after long periods of continued use, the majority of individuals who take both prescription and/or recreational drugs have a high likelihood of becoming addicted.

Ask participants: Can you become addicted after only using once or twice?

YES! Some people have the ability to use prescription and recreational drugs with little to no hazardous effects while others can become addicted to a particular drug after using it one time. And some substances are more addictive than others: drugs like crack or heroin are so addictive that they might only be used once or twice before the user loses control.

Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who is addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Drug use and addiction can change a person’s entire life within a very short time period. As a person begins to form a physical and emotional dependency on a particular drug, he or she feels a powerful urge to consume the drug regularly. The extent of an individual’s vulnerability to his or her drug addiction depends on a wide variety of factors, including the person’s genes, mental health, physical health, and environment. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.

Ask participants if they know what being physically dependent means?

Physical Addiction

Being physically addicted means a person’s body actually becomes dependent on a particular substance. Smoking is an example of physical addiction. It also means the body builds tolerance to that substance, so that a person needs a larger dose than ever before to get the same effects.

Someone who is physically addicted and stops using a substance like drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Ask participants if anyone knows what some typical withdrawal symptoms would be?

Common symptoms of withdrawal are diarrhea, shaking, and generally feeling awful.

The other type of dependence is psychological dependence. Ask participants if they know what it means?

Psychological Addiction

Psychological addiction happens when the cravings for a drug are psychological or emotional. People who are psychologically addicted feel overcome by the desire to have a drug. Like physical addiction, they may lie or steal to get it.

A person crosses the line between use and addiction when he or she is no longer using the drug to have fun or get high, but has come to depend on it. His or her whole life centers on the need for the drug. An addicted person — whether it’s a physical or psychological addiction or both — no longer feels like there is a choice in taking a substance.

Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop – NIDA common drug chart handout

At the end of the session, provide each peer with a copy of the evaluation form and explain that evaluations will be an ongoing important part of each training session to improve where necessary and plan for future programs.

Evaluation forms

Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K


To educate youth on the benefits of fitness, how it relates to personal health and what health means in the context of one’s own body.


The objectives of this session are to provide YARD peers with:

  • Creating a better understanding of health
  • Understanding why fitness is important
  • What proper fitness should look like and how it impacts health
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (incorporating participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Course Outline:

Health and Fitness

Ask participants;

  • What is health?
  • What does it look like?
  • What is Physical fitness?

Show the Health and Fitness PowerPoint 9.12 Health and Fitness PowerPoint

Components of exercise:

  1. Cardio respiratory (Endurance)
  2. Muscular strength
  3. Muscular endurance
  4. Flexibility
  5. Body composition

What do each of these look like, what are examples of each?

Components of a work out:

What are the different stages that should be included in each workout, whether it’s playing basketball or lifting weights?

  • Warm Up
  • Stretching
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic/muscle strengthening/ muscle endurance activity
  • Cool down- stretching

Why is each of these important? (Have participants come up with answers and ensure they understand the importance)

Ask ‘Why is fitness important?’

Cardiovascular health, increase metabolism/burn fat/build muscle, decreases risk of disease such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease, and increases mental health through increase in positive hormones, having goals, socializing etc.

Ask: What are diets that you have heard about?

Are they beneficial? (The answer you want is “No”, that it’s about long term healthy eating/exercise, etc. Not short term fixes that slow down your metabolism…)

How do they affect your body?

When you’re working out, how do you know if you are working hard enough, that you are working towards being ‘fit’?

One way is to check your Heart Rate. Some gyms have machines and mechanisms for this…or

To calculate your training heart rate for moderate intensity exercise, you will first need to know your maximum heart rate (MHR). For men this is calculated by subtracting your age from 220 and for women from 226. Then multiply your MHR by 0.55 to get your lower exercise range and by 0.7 to get your higher exercise range. Now that you know your range, you can monitor your heart rate to ensure it stays within the lower and upper training range.

Of course, most cardiovascular machines measure your heart rate for you with built-in sensors, however, if you are outdoors or at home, you may opt to purchase a chest-strap heart rate monitor or simply take your pulse at the wrist or neck. Every five or ten minutes, find your pulse, look at the clock and count beats for 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to determine your heart rate.

Age is a very important factor in determining your fitness training range. Beginners should work in the lower end of the heart rate range, while those who are in better condition can work harder. Note: if you suffer from some medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure), your heart rate should stay below a certain level. It is always important to speak with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Target Heart Rate

This website has a heart rate calculator, just enter your age.

Another, much more simple way is the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).

This requires no calculations at all, it is more subjective. How hard do you feel you are working on a scale of 1 to 10?

Rate of Perceived Exertion Chart

To burn fat you must elevate your heart rate for at least 20 minutes.

Too reach fitness; find something you enjoy!!! Find a friend to work out with.

Physical Activity Definitions

Ask what youth think each term may mean then read the definition provided by Bodies in Motion.

Resources required:
  • Book boardroom (ideally, with table and in private) or gym space (if blocked off for the duration of groups) or a quiet area
  • Multiple Handouts: Peer Contract, Peer Code of Conduct, YARD project Contract
  • 3rd party survey (pre-surveys)

Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K


The group facilitation Module is offered earlier in the training period to facilitate youth learning for the upcoming modules and work sessions. The module’s focus is to assist peers to develop group facilitation skills.


The objectives of this session are to provide YARD peers with:

  • Learning more about oneself and own triggers when working with others
  • Effective use of communication skills with provided skills and techniques
  • Identification  of preferences to the group of their personal styles
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (incorporating participants’ input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Course Outline:

Group Facilitation

Ask the group the following questions:

What is a facilitator?

What is the role of a facilitator?

Have youth think about a group or training that they have attended.

Ask them:

What are qualities a good facilitator should have?

What are things they liked about the facilitation style?

What are mistakes that a facilitator should avoid?

What are things they don’t like about the facilitation styles?

Steps to facilitating:

What is the purpose of the group/training/workshop?

How long do you want the training to be?

What will you need? (Material, space, co-facilitator).

How many people are you developing the group for? This will direct the kinds of activities you run.

Who? What is the demographic you are presenting to? Are there other youth, peer leaders, workers, community members…

After you have decided the goal/purpose/objectives you must come up with a group outline.

Group outlines can look different (See 9.10 Appendix J for a blank template).

Points to remember:

You are the leader. It is your role to:

  • keep people on task
  • on time
  • call others on oppressive language or behaviours
  • facilitate the discussion
  • encourage participation
  • rephrase points people might not understand
  • restate important points
  • make sure everyone’s voice is heard:
    • You can do a go around
    • Pay attention to those who may be quiet do they want to say something, invite them to contribute
    • Watch for hands
    • Remind people gently that others voices also need to be heard
  • Gently remind those who may take up space that this is a group process, everyone’s voice counts
  • When making decisions: (especially if  you are running and activity planning meeting and participants are stuck)
    • You can ask for a vote
    • Show of hands.
    • Present the question. “Am I willing to die in front of this mountain” Does this particular activity, decision… mean this much to me that I can bend or compromise?

REMEMBER: Know your content. You shouldn’t be reading your notes. Keep eye contact, use your notes to keep you on track and remind you where you are going.


Split the group into smaller groups depending on resources available.

Split the peers into two groups on the two peer computers. Have resources and websites ready for the two topics:

  • Stress Management
  • Health and Drug Education


Health and drug related books and websites; youth trainings; icebreakers…

Have the groups decide who will do which topic.

Assist them to come up with a 45 to 60 minute training on their topic.

Resources required:
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

To educate peers on the basics of event planning


The objectives of this session are to help YARD peers learn:

  • how to effectively manage time to stay on track
  • to keep records of meetings and important information
  • different roles involved in planning and event
  • accountability and collaboration with peers
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (incorporating participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Module Outline:

Event planning is the process of planning a festival, ceremony, competition, party, concert, or convention. Event planning includes budgeting, establishing dates and alternate dates, selecting and reserving the event site, acquiring permits, and coordinating transportation and parking. Event planning also includes some or all of the following, depending on the event: developing a theme or motif for the event, arranging for speakers and alternate speakers, coordinating location support (such as electricity and other utilities), arranging decor, tables, chairs, tents, event support and security, catering, police, fire, portable toilets, parking, signage, emergency plans, health care professionals, and cleanup.

A young women sitting at a table with pamphlets on it.

Steps to planning an event

The first step to planning an event is determining its purpose, whether it is for a wedding, company, birthday, festival, graduation or any other event requiring planning ahead.

The event planner needs to choose entertainment, location, guest list, speakers, and content. The location for events is endless, but when planning for events, people are more likely to consider hotels, convention centers, reception halls, or outdoors depending on the event. Once the location is determined and booked, the coordinator/planner needs to discuss the event’s details with staff, set up the entertainment, and keep the client updated as well.

Once this piece is done, the event planner has all the smaller details to set up such as food, drinks, music, guest list, budget, advertising and marketing, decorations.  All of this preparation ahead of time is needed for an event to run smoothly.  The event planner should also be prepared for last minute changes, delays, etc., this is very much part of the process of planning for an event.

An event planner needs to be able to manage their time wisely for the event, including planning enough time for all the preparation that is needed for each part of the event so it is a success.


Name of event – what?

(Open house/building opening, sports day, art show, launch of new program, Earth Day, community BBQ, cultural celebration, talent show, etc.)

Date of event

Time of event

Location of event

Contact persons: Event coordinator and alternate

Target audience – who?

  • Who is the event for?
  • What does the audience need to know?
  • What will hold their interest?

Message – what?

  • What do you want to say to the target audience?
  • What do you want them to know/do?

Objectives – why?

  • Be clear about what you hope to achieve with this event (reason for having the event).

Description of event – what?

  • What is the event about, what will it include.

Risk assessment – what?

  • Identify possible risks and develop strategies to minimise risks; what are some of the things that could go wrong? What are some of your ideas for addressing those issues?

Evaluation criteria established (how to evaluate the event)

  • What were our aims/objectives?
  • Did we achieve what we set out to do?
  • Did it come in on budget?
  • What were the intended/unintended outcomes?
  • How do we measure effectiveness?
  • What tools do we use to measure our success?


  • Who will be involved in the event?
  • Date/s of event determined
  • Location/venue for event booked
  • Target audience determined
  • Message determined-
  • Objectives set
  • Risk assessment completed
  • Evaluation criteria established
Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

To educate peers on the effects of drug use on their mental health and the intersections of mental illness and drug use.


The objectives of this session are to:

  • create and open a dialog around mental illness
  • create and open a dialog around drug use
  • inform how drug use affects our brain and its ability to participate in leisure
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (incorporating participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through  the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Module Outline:

It is important to acknowledge that the use of some “drugs” can be harm-free or beneficial. Yet drug use involves risk?

Ask participants to “Name popular drugs that either you use, have used or know others use”

Ice Breaker

Three Questions

  • Explain to participants that the quickest way to find out some things about another person is to ask them significant questions.
  • Pass out the three pieces of paper to each participant.
  • Ask participants to choose a partner who is someone they don’t know or don’t know well.
  • Once partnered, let the participants know they need to answer the following question.
  • Let them know there is a 3 minute time frame for them to talk with their partners, making sure they take turns with questions and answers.
  • The questions:
    1. What recreation/sports/art activities were you involved in as a child or adolescent?
    2. What team sports do you cheer for?
    3. What is your favorite hobby now?
  • As part of the larger groups, ask participants to share what they have learned about each other


What happens to your brain when you take drugs?

Drugs are chemicals that tap into the brain’s communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. There are at least two ways that drugs are able to do this:

  1. By imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers, and/or
  2. By over stimulating the “reward circuit” of the brain.

Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, have a similar structure to chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, which are naturally produced by the brain. These drugs are able to “fool” the brain’s receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages (chemical induced messages).

Other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters, or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals, which is needed to shut off the signal between neurons. This produces amplified message that ultimately disrupts normal communication patterns.

Nearly all drugs, directly or indirectly, target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in the brain that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this system, which normally responds to natural behaviors that are linked to survival (eating, spending time with loved ones, etc.), produces euphoric effects (caused by the drugs). This reaction sets in motion a pattern that “teaches” people to repeat the behavior of using drugs.

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain changes and get used to surges in dopamine by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. Dopamine’s impact on the reward circuit lessens, reducing the ability to enjoy drugs and the things that previously brought pleasure. A person may now use larger amounts of drugs than they first did to achieve the dopamine high—this is referred to as “tolerance”.

Activity #1 (Drug Use, Risks & Benefits)

  1. Split participants into two groups; hand out chart paper and ask them to answer the following questions:
    1. What are the positives of drug use?
    2. What are the risks?
  2. When they are done, have the groups share with the larger group what they have come up with.
  3. In the larger group, ask participants:
    1. What are reasons that people choose to use drugs?

Some substances can have beneficial uses (to manage pain, etc.) yet there are also risks (e.g. overdose, dependence, sharing equipment, etc.)


What is Leisure?

What do you do for leisure?

What is recreation?

How is recreation beneficial to us?

How does using substances affect our ability to participate in and enjoy recreational activities?

Because of the reduction in dopamine and other chemicals in the brain, we feel less happy without drugs, our ability to enjoy other activities decreases.

Drug use can physically affect our body’s ability to participate in recreation through lack of sleep, poor nutrition, ‘runs’ which push our bodies to the limit, sharing equipment etc.

Activity #2 (Leisure)

(Need flip chart and “Post It Notes” with pictures of activities)

What did you do to have fun as a kid?

  1. What are some of the reasons as to why these things may not be fun once someone begins to use drugs?

What is the connection between substance use and leisure?

Leisure and Self Care

How does stress impact our leisure time?

What do you do to take care of yourself?

What is self-care?

How can you use recreation as leisure/self-care activities?


What is Healthy Leisure?

Healthy Leisure is often connected to less substance use because it is about moderation and balance. In this case it is about balancing free time activities, responsibilities and leisure time in an effort to maintain health and fitness.

Healthy Leisure is about balancing our lives with recreation activities that benefit our minds, bodies and spirits.  These activities can range from sports/ fitness activities to stamp collecting.  The important thing is that these activities are enjoyable to you and are chosen by you.

Healthy Leisure can play a very important role in our emotional and physical health and well-being.  It can help us relax, manage stress, increase our sense of self-worth, prevent boredom, increase mental and physical agility, and provide us with coping skills, enjoyment and social connection.

What is the connection between Healthy Leisure and reducing drug use?

Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

The goal of this module is to build and enhance the youth’s existing skills in order for them to become better speakers both in daily life and formal situations.


The objectives of this session are to:

  • educate youth on basics skills in public speaking
  • recognize nervous behavior
  • create self-awareness
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (incorporating participants’ input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Module Outline:

Ice Breaker

You will need flip chart paper, marker.  Ask participants to write down answers to the following questions:

  1. What do you fear about public speaking?
  2. How does your body react when you have to do public speaking?
  3. What would be the ideal public speaking situation?

Once everyone has written out their answers to the questions, the flip chart paper can be put up on the wall and the group can share what they wrote.

At this point, ask participants if they want to share experiences they had with public speaking and felt like an idiot while doing it. This would be a safe space for sharing those experiences.


What makes a good public speaker?

Using a flip chart or whiteboard ask participants to briefly list what they think makes a good public speaker.

Questions to foster discussion:

  1. What is an example of a time when you really were interested in what someone was saying?
  2. What did the person do to keep you interested?
  3. What have you heard before about good public speaking?

Good Public Speakers:

  • Look up at their audience and make eye contact where appropriate
  • Stand up tall or sit up tall, perhaps with a slight lean forward
  • Speak with enough volume to be heard, but do not yell
  • Speak at a pace that they can be understood (Not to fast or too slowly)
  • Speak clearly

Key Principles of Public Speaking

  1. Public speaking can make you stressed but you can use those “nerves” as a good energy.
  2. You don’t have to be brilliant or perfect to succeed
  3. All you need is two or three main points
  4. You need a purpose for your speech
  5. Try not to think of yourself as a “public speaker”
  6. Be genuine and be yourself in a confident way, if you want, use humour
  7. All the “bad” things you think are you going to happen, likely won’t happen, but if they do, then roll with them!
  8. You don’t have to control the behaviour of your audience
  9. Prepare your content, but don’t over prepare it. If you know your stuff you won’t have to prepare too much.


Overcome your fear of Public Speaking and Keep your audience’s Attention!

What good are Nerves?

  • Nerves can be good
  • You don’t want to be too comfortable in front of your audience; if you feel a little uncomfortable you can use that energy to make a boring presentation more interesting
  • This will mean that people will listen more
  • People appreciate that public speaking is nerve-racking
  • They want to see you being real and sometimes it is good to say that you are nervous; but don’t lay it on too thick

Get your attention off yourself

  • Try to focus on just about anything other than yourself
  • You can distract yourself by paying attention to the environment in which you’re speaking and seeing how it can work for yourself

Pay Attention to Your Audience

  • Pay attention to your audience
  • Notice what people are wearing, who’s wearing glasses, who has on bright colours
  • This will trick your mind so that you won’t be so focused on what is going on with yourself
  • The less you concentrate on yourself and on your audience the more confident you will feel

Keep the audience with you

  • Maintain eye contact for a second or two with as many people as possible
  • Be provocative
  • Be challenging
  • Change the pace of your delivery
  • Change the volume of your voice

When do we feel the most comfortable?

  • when we know what we are talking about
  • when we feel that we can answer questions on the topic
  • when we feel comfortable enough to say that we do not know always know the answer and that that is okay
  • when we feel emotionally connected to the subject / when we are interested in the topic

Some brief points will be discussed about body language and additionally about better ways to speak to an audience. Afterwards, the group will have the chance to do some role plays for better public speaking.

These points can be brainstormed from the group and written down on the whiteboard. The facilitator may bring some of these points out by demonstration.

Body Language:

  • Avoid reading from a “speech” and looking down at your paper during the whole presentation
  • Make eye contact sometimes; but don’t stare at people!
  • You can choose to stand up for your presentation or if you feel that you want to be more informal you can sit down
  • You should sit or stand somewhere in the room which won’t require people to awkwardly turn around to see you; but they can turn sideways (just not all the way around)
  • Sitting around a table or in a circle can make people feel that you are part of the group and not just someone speaking down to them
  • It is also fine though to move around during your presentation; just make sure you aren’t wondering without any purpose
  • Remember to breathe!


  • Speak up and speak clearly
  • Don’t speak too quickly or too slowly
  • Try not to speak in a monotone
  • Allow your emotion through but not necessarily for the whole time as it can be overwhelming

Try to replace “umms” with pauses instead; it’s okay to take a break and let your brain catch up

Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop
  • A room enough for the group
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

To educate youth on proper health and nutrition


The objectives of this session are for YARD peers to:

  • learn about portion sizes
  • plan how to eat on a budget
  • learn what a body needs to be healthy and to maintain fitness levels
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (with participants’ input and the non-negotiable rules we must have whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Course Outline:

Materials needed: chart paper, 2 markers, and several copies of the Canada’s Food Guide

Time: 1/1.5 hours

Ice Breaker

Everybody in the group is given a pen/pencil and paper and asked to write 3 interesting questions that they would like to ask the other group members. These aren’t meant to be the everyday, “what’s your name” or “how are you” type questions but something like, “If you won a million dollars today, what would you do with it?” or “What do you plan to study in school?/Name a subject/topic you’re really into…”…tell the group to write the questions with enough space so the paper can be ripped into 3 and after 5-10 minutes, put all the questions into a hat. Shake it up and ask everyone in the group the questions. This can be altered depending on the time allowance (If pressed for time, don’t ask all the questions).

Activity 1

Get one participant of the group to take the marker and draw the outline of a body on the chart paper.

Ask the group for input and ask them to show their examples on the paper regarding questions like:

What does a body that participates in an adequate amount of physical activity look like?

What does good nutrition look like?

How does it affect our bodies?

Get another participant to take the marker and draw the outline of another body on the chart paper.

Ask the group the opposing questions.

A vibrant looking tomatoe bruchette in a metal bowl.

Presentation A

Present the Power Point Presentation; Basic Principles of Health & Nutrition (9.12 Appendix L)

Activity 2

Hand out Canada’s Food Guide and discuss the contents, portion sizes and daily amounts.

Ask if there any questions.

Explain the seven nutrients:

  1. Protein—essential to growth and repair of muscle and other body tissues
  2. Carbohydrates—our main source of energy
  3. Fat—back up source of energy and important in relation to fat soluble vitamins
  4. Minerals—those inorganic elements occurring in the body and which are critical to its normal functions
  5. Vitamins—water and fat soluble vitamins play important roles in many chemical processes in the body
  6. Water—essential to normal body function – as a vehicle for carrying other nutrients and because 60% of the human body is water
  7. Roughage—the fibrous indigestible portion of our diet essential to health of the digestive system.

Presentation B

Draw three different pie charts representing proteins, carbohydrates, and fruits & veg.

The correct being:

Meat/other proteins-25%, carbs-25%, and fruits/vegetables-50%.

Ask the group to rank the pie charts from healthiest to non-healthiest and ask them to explain why.

Now, explain that the 25/25/50 ratio is the healthiest.

Ask what happens to our bodies when we don’t intake enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Ask what happens to our bodies when we intake too much.

Ask where the energy comes from for someone who isn’t eating? ….Protein!

Explain that at this point, if your body is using protein as an energy source then that means this person is not at a healthy weight and needs to be in-taking more food. Also explain that we never want to burn energy (fuel-food) at such a high pace that we end up going into our protein. Explain the difference between a long distance runner intake and a body builder. Add that athletes generally eat more protein.

Activity 3

Plan one week of breakfast, lunch and dinner for meat eaters (Remind youth to take into account kosher/Halal/no pork options), and also have a separate plan for vegetarians.

Is every meal nutritionally balanced?

What kind of donated items do we usually get?

Where can we incorporate these?

Moving forward now, do you feel comfortable enough that you can reproduce a meal like this on your own?

Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

To provide youth with an opportunity to lead their peers and get firsthand experience at what it will be like to run their own groups/modules.


The objectives of this session are to provide YARD peers with:

  • teaching the necessary skills that are required to run events/activities during the work portion of the program
  • trust building within the team through activities
  • key characteristics of successful leadership styles
  • specific types of leadership styles.
  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety (incorporating participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Module Outline:


Let’s Shape It Up!

To play this leadership development game, divide the group into two teams.

Next, give each of the teams some pencils, erasers, painting colors and a blank sheet of paper.

Instruct the teams that you will give one topic to them, which they have to draw on the sheet of paper and then color it, the catch is that the team members cannot talk among themselves.

Only one team member can work on the sheet at a time and whenever you whistle, some other member has to take over from the previous person.

Each team has ten minutes to carry out this activity.

You say out loud a topic like, “recreation” or “health”. The teams cannot discuss how to go about sketching it.  The first team member will take the lead to start sketching.   When you whistle, the next team member for each group will pick up where the previous left off.  This requires a lot of understanding on the part of each team member about each other, what they are thinking and where they were going with their sketch. This activity does test the group’s problem solving skills and collaborative skills. Group leadership games such as these are a perfect way to improve teamwork, decision making skills and problem-solving skills. You can read more on leadership games for groups. (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/leadership-games-for-groups.html)

Activity #1

Leadership skills

Brain storm with the group

  1. Present the youth with the following statement … “Think of someone in your past or present who you view as a leader!” Now answer the following questions:
    1. What are skills that you see as mandatory for a leader to possess?
    2. What are skills that are helpful for a leader to possess?
    3. Why do you think they are important?
    4. Can you think of someone who represents these qualities?
    5. What behaviors are important for a leader to not have? (encourage discussion by challenging behaviors identified)
    6. Which of these qualities do you have? Which do you feel you need to further develop?


Lewin’s Leadership Styles

Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic)

What do you think this style of leadership looks like?

The top-down style of leadership—the “command style”

  1. A group is defined by a supreme leader who “rules” over all.
  2. The leader’s main responsibility is to direct members of a group.
  3. To carry out these command functions, the leader must possess multiple skills:
    1. Serving as spokesperson for the group (through speaking and writing)
    2. Functioning as the group’s chief negotiator with other forces
    3. Serving as the group’s planner
    4. Promoting internal group unity and motivating the members

Delegative (Laissez-Faire)

What Do You think this looks like?

Delegative approach, is an alternative concept of leadership: the grassroots approach of shared leadership

  1. A group functions collectively, each person is able to contribute specific skills, such as:
    1. Serving as spokesperson (through speaking and writing)
    2. Representing the group in negotiations
    3. Developing strategies  for the group
    4. Fostering group harmony and the teamwork
    5. Managing tasks and overseeing group responsibilities
    6. Fostering a “culture”—or atmosphere within the group—that promotes learning, membership development, and fun
  2. The group is comfortable with having many styles of leadership; no one style is defined as the most important style.
  3. The group provides a nurturing atmosphere, enabling all members to grow in their leadership skills and to learn new skills

Participative Leadership (Democratic)

What Do You think this one looks like?

  1. Democratic leaders offer guidance to group members, but they also participate in the group and allow input from other group members.
  2. Participative leaders encourage group members to participate, but retain the final say over the decision-making process.
  3. Group members have been known to feel engaged in the process and are more motivated and creative.

Other Leadership styles/theories

Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders are “by the book”, wanting group members to follow procedures exactly. This can be a very appropriate style for work involving serious safety risks (such as working with machinery) or where large sums of money are involved (such as cash-handling).

In other situations, the inflexibility and high levels of control this approach uses can demoralize members, and can lessen the ability to react to changing circumstances.

Charismatic Leadership

A charismatic leadership style can appear similar to a transformational leadership style. The leader uses enthusiasm with the team, and is very energetic in driving others forward.

However, a charismatic leader can tend to believe more in themselves than in their team. This can be risky for a project, followers can perceive success is tied up with the presence of the charismatic leader, if he/she should leave, things can fall apart quickly. The charismatic leadership carries great responsibility, and projects need long-term commitment from the leader to reduce risk of it falling apart.

People-Oriented Leadership or Relations-Oriented Leadership

This style of leadership is the opposite of task-oriented leadership: the leader is totally focused on organizing, supporting and developing the people in team. A participative style, it tends to lead to good teamwork and creative collaboration. However, taken to extremes, it can lead to failure to achieve the team’s goals, as tasks can be overlooked. In practice, many leaders use both task-oriented and people-oriented styles of leadership, to both inspire and meet deadlines.

Servant Leadership

This term, coined by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s, describes a leader who is often not formally recognized as such. Someone leads simply by virtue of meeting the needs of the team (informal leadership). In many ways, servant leadership is a form of democratic leadership, as the whole team tends to be involved in decision-making.

Task-Oriented Leadership

A highly task-oriented leader focuses only on getting the job done, and can be quite autocratic. They will actively define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, plan, organize and monitor. However, as task-oriented leaders spare little thought for the well-being of their teams/individuals.  This approach can have difficulties in motivating and retaining staff.

Transactional Leadership

This style of leadership starts with the premise that team members agree to obey their leader totally when they take a job on: the “transaction” is (usually) that the organization pays the team members, in return for their effort and compliance. As such, the leader has the right to “punish” team members if their work doesn’t meet the pre-determined standard.

Transformational Leadership

A person with this leadership style is a true leader who inspires his or her team with a shared vision of the future. Transformational leaders are highly visible, and spend a lot of time communicating. They don’t necessarily lead from the front, as they tend to delegate responsibility amongst their teams. While their enthusiasm is often infectious, they sometimes need to be supported by “detail oriented individuals”.

Common Misconceptions about Leadership

  1. “There is one—and only one—style of leadership for a group”
  2. “For any group, there is one—and only one—leader. A few members of the group are ‘developing leaders,’ while the rest are ‘followers’ ”
  3. “Leaders are born and not trained; a person either has leadership ability or does not”
  4. Even when people recognize the reality of different leadership styles, they tend to believe that “one style (usually the ‘command style’) is more important than other styles

Activity #2

Split the group into two teams by numbering off each participant.

Ask each team to choose a leader based on the qualities they believe to be most important leadership.

Young folks on a rooftop garden, planting plants.

Ask the two leaders chosen by the groups to come outside and hand the leader a card with a leadership style on it (Autocratic, participative, Laissez Faire) without the rest of the group being aware of what is written on the card. Ensure that each individual understands what qualities the style of leadership on his/her card possess.

Instruct both groups to organize a sporting event (i.e. 3 on 3 basketball tournament between Place and Satellite).

Give the group very little details on how the event should look. Allow each group 30 minutes to construct how this event should look, including a plan/outline for the event.

After 30 minutes have the group’s report back to the larger group.

When each group has reported back, have the larger group discuss what worked well and what didn’t.

Do you think it worked/didn’t work well because of the leadership style? Why?

How did the style of leadership affect the group process?

What style of leadership do you believe would have worked better?

Where you comfortable with the leadership style? Why?

Activity #3: Self-evaluation

  1. Do you consider yourself a leader? Why or why not?
  2. What is (are) your main strength(s) as a leader? What is your “leadership style”?


  1. Identify one new facet of leadership that you would like to develop through our project.

Group activities (for discussion)

  1. For the YARD peer training and work period, how can we assign people to effectively utilize their existing leadership skills and styles, and assist them to develop new leadership skills and styles?
    1. Each person possesses their own leadership style
    2. Key elements to a successful leader
Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

Provide youth the opportunity for self-introspection, in the hopes that they will learn to “respond” as opposed to “react”. It will also help youth be clear on the definition of beliefs, values and principles.


The objectives of this session for YARD peers are:

  • To create an open space for youth to talk about their personal opinion of themselves
  • To develop a new concept or modified concept of the self
  • To empower youth to break habits and patterns of harm


  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety  (incorporating participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established

Young people on a rock overlooking a body of water in overcast weather.

Module Outline:

Check in

  1. An opportunity to reflect on yourself, learn about why you make the decisions you make
  2. Question:  who here feels they know themselves really well?
  3. Keep an open mind to learning
  4. Two main components/two things to consider; Values and Belief Systems, these influence everything you do
    1. What is a value? – what you hold important to you
    2. What is belief? – what you hold to be true
  5. Do you know what goes into making your daily decisions? – brainstorm and discuss
  6. Where do you get your values and beliefs from?
  7. Thinking of values and beliefs, do you still know yourself very well?
  8. What do you value?
    1. Life, freedom, relationships, friendships, money, family, time, truth/honesty, integrity
  9. At a certain point you gotta go legit!
    1. What tells you it’s time to legit?
    2. What allowed you to not be legit
  10. What do you believe?
  11. “protestant work ethic” – if you work hard, you will succeed

Value –reputation and image

  1. What is your image in place for?
  2. Who are you? Is it your image?
  3. What does your image do for you?
  4. What does it protect?
  5. What else is there about you that is important beyond your image?
  6. We don’t feel sage when we are vulnerable, but there are times where it is sage to be vulnerable
  7. As a man in society we have an image

Beliefs – where do our beliefs come from?

  1. Work ethic – work hard so you can be successful VS. those that work hard and can’t catch a break in our society
    1. (newcomers with degrees who cannot work in Canada) – i.e. Trained Dr. works as a taxi driver
    2. “get a job you lazy bum”
    3. Image of the shelter in the community
  2. Think about how our own belief system impacts how we treat others in the shelter
    1. Oppressive comments to others
  3. What is it that you carry with you that helps you be how you are?
  4. Do you still know yourself well?

Beliefs – “children to be seen not heard”

  1. Religion and how it influences belief systems
  2. What about when your behaviors conflict with your values and beliefs?
    1. How do you handle yourself then?
    2. Are you ok with it? Why? Why not?
    3. It comes down to how you are going to live – choices
    4. Beliefs and values change over time influenced by parents as a child, then as you mature you change based on other influences

Values and Beliefs – where do they come from?

Family, friends/peers, media, culture, education system, community, laws and politics, religion, eye for an eye

The influence of these things change over time as you grow and mature

Four body cues when you are making decisions

  1. Thoughts
    1. What the hell is going on?
    2. Is it safe?
    3. Do I have to defend myself?
  2. Feelings/Emotions
    1. Confusion
    2. Interest
    3. Disappointed, upset, hurt, isolated, lonely (leads to anger) anger is a secondary emotion
  3. Physical sensations
    1. No control
    2. Heart racing
    3. Shakes
    4. Breathing
    5. Sweating
    6. Adrenaline rush
    7. Behaviours
  4. The first 3 cues influence your actions and behaviors

Learning self-control means mastering control over these four things and knowing your values and beliefs.

Think of a scenario in the house (shelter) – an altercation in the house, what are the thoughts emotions, physical behaviors associated with that event?


Is a secondary emotion that covers up other emotions such as hurt, loneliness, isolated, etc. We do not often talk about the emotion under anger

Did you know that after an adrenaline rush, body takes an hour to calm down, to return to a normal state?

Q: when we are in an uncomfortable situation, how does body respond?

When one knows one’s personal response to the 4 cues, one is better able to make a good choice to deal with a situation

Sometimes this is a painful process (to be aware of our own cues), it requires us to go deeper inside and sometimes it’s painful and confusing

Sometimes it is easier for us to bury our heads in the sand “ostrich syndrome”

It’s helpful to reach out, access supports and services to help you feel safe in understanding (why you do what you do and the way you do it) and in healing (what you need to help you move on )

A lot of choices made are survival choices to help us meet our immediate needs

How do you make choices for long term (with your life’s bigger picture in mind)?

Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop
  • Room enough for group
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

Offer youth strategies and coping mechanisms to help them when faced with triggering situations.  Increasing their skills to be able to respond more maturely and positively


The objectives of this session are:

  • To challenge youth to look at their conflicts styles
  • To have youth recognize their impact on others
  • To educate youth on different techniques and styles that they can implement


  • All active members of the YARD program
  • Verify established rules with the group for safety  (incorporating participants input and the non-negotiable rules that will be in place whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 100-120 minutes; breaks scheduled at half way through the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established
Course Outline:


River:  boulders and birds


  1. Although it might appear that you and the other person have no common ground, chances are – YOU DO! Look for commonalities
  2.  Without dialogue (discussion) nothing will be resolved
  3. High emotion = escalation – even if the other person is getting more emotional, do not respond in like- manner– by keeping yourself calm, you will have a greater chance of working through the conflict
  4. People tend to get stuck on the problem – focus on solutions – how can you both move forward?

Inflatable rafts on the shore of a river.

Techniques for Dealing with Challenging Personalities

In many cases, conflict can arise between two people or parties because of the personalities involved.  Here are several strategies for dealing with challenging personalities, followed by descriptions and specific strategies for a number of the more common difficult personalities found in groups and organizations.

  1. Assess the situation.
  2. Stop wishing the person was different.
  3. Distance yourself from the difficult situation.
  4. “Keep Your Cool.”
  5. Formulate a plan to interrupt the situation and carry it through.
  6. If your strategies for coping do not work, stop your efforts for the time being.
  7. Keep it all in perspective.

Specific Personalities + Strategies to Deal with Them

  1. Complainers
  2. Indecisives
  3. Super-agreeables
  4. Negativitists
  5. Experts
  6. Silent Unresponsive
  7. Hostile Aggressive

Stages of Conflict

  1. Tension Development
  2. Role Dilemma
  3. Injustice Collecting
  4. Confrontation
  5. Adjustments

Five Main Sources of Conflict:

There are five main sources of conflict between two parties.  Knowing the root causes may help to determine what’s needed by either or both of the parties to resolve the situation.

Root Problem   __________________________

Possible Causes   __________________________

Values (often the most difficult to resolve due to the deep-rooted nature)










Now can you think of a difficult situation in this group or another where you have been involved, and looking back on it, you wish you could have resolved it more positively.  Write down your observations and understanding of the situation

The problem (2 to 3 sentences)



Who was involved?  Who are the main parties?



What actually happened?



What did you want to happen?



Three Steps to Deal with Conflict

  1. Define the situation, the facts, the aim or outcome (recognize and define)
  2. Search for alternatives and their implications (generate alternatives)
  3. Make a decision (choose a solution)

What’s Your Style?

Most people have a dominant method or style of dealing with conflict.  In some cases, that style may be appropriate, but it may not, depending on the situation.  In most cases, the best style to use is one that achieves an acceptable solution to both parties.  This is a collaboration style, and to a lesser extent, a compromising style.  This list of styles describes the five most common styles people use to deal with conflict.  Which one describes you best?

  1. Avoiding
  2. Accommodating
  3. Competing
  4. Collaborating
  5. Compromising
Resources required:
  • White board or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Handouts for this workshop
  • Refer to Module Evaluation 9.11 Appendix K

Workshops are those modules that have been removed from the standard curriculum for one reason or another. Typically the removal of one of the modules is because of the lack of relevance and expected benefit for the peers. It was found that usually the following workshops were unnecessary for most groups, but they were created out of identified need and should be inputted where it will most beneficial for peer in a particular session.  For  example, should the composition of the peer group have a group of individuals who are cognitively much younger than their biological age and do not grasp the subtleties of body cues for personal space, adding the workshop on Boundaries would be beneficial to future interactions between the peers. It is at the discretion of the project coordinator and peer leaders to add or remove modules.

Healthy Boundaries

Topic: Healthy Boundaries

Duration: 2 hours

  • Whiteboard, Markers, Flipchart paper, Handouts, Laptop, projector

What are Boundaries?

Well, there are three types we’re going to talk about today. (Ask the youth if they have any idea what they might be):

  1. Physical – a physical boundary is literally the space around you, your body. (For example: Someone doesn’t just walk by and hug you, that is your personal space, you’ve set that boundary)
  2. Emotional – an emotional boundary, on the other hand, protects our thinking, our feelings and our behavior and keep us able to function. We know where we stand and who we are. We don’t let others manipulate us. When we are using our emotional boundaries, we take responsibility for our own thinking, feeling and behavior – and we keep ours separate from other people. Therefore we stop blaming them for what we think, feel and do. Our emotional boundaries also allow us to stop taking responsibility for the thoughts, the feeling and the behavior of others.  When we do this, we stop manipulating and controlling those around us.
  3. Mental – A mental boundary involves knowing you have the freedom to express your opinions and thoughts without being ridiculed or judged.

A healthy boundary is a space around yourself that gives you a sense of security and safety

Boundaries are like fences in that they keep bad things out and good things in. This means that you protect yourself from things or people that might hurt you and you nurture things or people that help you.

(Notice I said fences and not walls.  A wall means that nothing gets through from either side but a fence allows flow)

Boundaries are limits or barriers that protect you, your time and your energy. When your boundaries are well-defined, they help to prevent conflict within your relationships. They are like your personal rules or policies.

“Setting limits is a way of defining who you are and what you’re all about, what you will do and what you won’t; what’s acceptable to you and what’s not”. -Laura Stack

Setting boundaries means owning and taking responsibility for your personal choices and the consequences thereof.

You make the choice, you take responsibility and you can make a different choice if you don’t like the consequence. You can’t control other people’s behaviour but you can control the extent to which it affects you.

Here are a few physiological signs that you have weak boundaries:

Physiological meaning, you’re body reacts to the stress of dealing with situations where you know something isn’t right but aren’t sure how to cope, or set those boundaries, do you know what I mean?!? (Allow the group a chance to discuss it/ debrief)

  • Knots in your stomach when you agree to do some things
  • Anger and resentment
  • Deep feeling of dread
  • Feeling shocked or being appalled at something someone said

The first step to creating stronger boundaries is to learn to say NO!

Remember if the reaction to your setting boundaries is not great (sulking, anger, etc.), it’s not about you – it’s about them. That feeling belongs on their side of the “fence”.

Activity #1

Ask youth to write the sentences below, on a piece of paper and write out as many statements underneath each sentence as they can think of:

Once they have had a chance to do this, discuss:

  1. People may not…
  2. I have a right to ask for…
  3. To protect my time and energy…

Learning to set healthy boundaries can feel uncomfortable, even scary, because it may go against the grain of the survival skills we learned in childhood.

Using the chart below, how would you rate each of criteria for each of the scenarios? Scenarios:

  1. Your “friend” has been drinking too much at a party. S/he’s showing signs of intoxication. You’re ready to leave the party, but s/he wants to stay. You see lots of available drugs and alcohol.
  2. You’re standing with a “friend” in a parking lot. S/he decides to break into a car to steal the wallet left on the car seat.  It’s late at night.


Strongly Agree



Strongly Disagree

1. Uses a calm voice
2. Uses eye-contact
3. Explains why it is a problem
4. Explains what needs to happen to resolve the problem
5. Respects rights of the other person
6.paused and thought before responding to perpetrator’s comment
7.Maintained a calm voice
8.If perpetrator was unreasonable, suggested meeting at some other time

Trans Awareness Training for Professionals

Created by: A.S. Advanced Peer, Eva’s Satellite


To train professionals on how to properly treat gender different people.


Workshop will provide training for individuals in all professions.  It will increase individual’s understanding of legal and human rights.  It will enhance individual’s awareness of the issues impacting trans equality and address the needs of trans individuals in policy and procedures.


1 hour with questions and 10 min break half way through the group.

Resources required:
  • tape, gender changing animal pictures and country flags and names, big sheets of paper, and definition bookmarks.
Outline and Content:


Share your name and something unique about yourself #1 Introduction:

  • Everyone who is Trans feels a certain amount of discomfort with themselves.
  • When the discomfort is extreme it is called gender dysphoria.
  • The word “trans” means to cross or change.
  • Gender identity is a state of being not a conscious choice.
  • As Trans we experience gender in many different ways.
  • While not everyone is in support of trans people, we should at least be respectful of others differences.
  • Regardless how we look on the outside, no one knows how we feel on the inside.
  • Being Trans is a normal part of human reality; it has been recorded in many different cultures and non-human species.  *place pictures of animals and flags of countries on wall and ask if they recognise the species and countries*
  • All living things appear in nature with a wide range of natural occurring variations.
  • The key to happiness is accepting who you are and taking care of yourself.
  • Anyone you meet or admire could be Trans; friends, a neighbour, a famous director, an actor, a member of your favourite band, even a NASA scientist. *place pictures of famous people and random names*
  • Most likely you’ve met one and didn’t even know they were Trans.
  • Trans have been around longer than oppression.

Activity # 1 Gender & Stereotypes

  • Split the room in half
  • Give them a big piece of paper and markers
  • Get one half to draw gender stereotypical male and the other to draw stereotypical female
  • After they are done ask if they fit into the stereotype
  • Let the group know gender varies from person to person

 Activity #2 Gender identity vs. Sexual orientation

  • Gender identity is how you feel about yourself.
  • Sexual orientation is whom you are attracted to.
  • They are two separate parts of our human reality.
  • Some of us are heterosexual (likes the opposite gender), homosexual (likes the same gender), bisexual (likes both genders), pansexual (like personality), trans sensual (likes trans people), asexual (no sexual preference), auto sexual (masturbation).

Activity #3 Transgender vs. Transsexual vs. Transvestite vs. Two spirits vs. Intersexed vs. Gender-queer

Transgender: a collective term for all gender variance. Sometimes a term for a non-op trans sexual.

Transsexual: someone who wants to change their gender through medical intervention (hormones, SRS aka. GRS, FFS etc…).

Transvestite: someone who lives as their assigned gender and dresses as the opposite gender for many reasons (one reason being it is a fetish).

Two spirits: someone who lives as both genders for cultural or religious reasons, they are highly regarded because of their uniqueness.

Intersex: formerly known as hermaphrodite. Someone who was born with a disorder in which the person may have both reproductive organs or a unique hormonal or chromosomal makeup.

Gender queer or androgyny: someone who chooses not to fit into a gender norm.

Break (10-15 mins)

Activity #4 Myths and Stereotypes)

Quick activity: Word association (what comes to mind when I say: Asian, Trans, Family)

Discuss some of the obvious stereotypes; identify the different ideas, representations, etc.

  1. In the next section please answer the following statements with agree or disagree.  Before you state the correct answer, tally the number of people who agreed and those who disagreed. Male to females are not real females because they don’t menstruate!

True or False?

FALSE, there are women who cannot menstruate because of their unique biological makeup, or through surgical procedures. These women are still entitled to call themselves females.

  1. You must have a mental disorder to want to change your gender!

True or False?

FALSE, though many trans people have mental health concerns it is not because they are trans it is because the stigma society put on them. In short it’s because of society not being Trans.

  1. Trans people choose to be that way!

True or False?

No one would choose to experience emotional, psychological, physical or financial distress. Just like a person does not choose to have diabetes.

  1. Male to females have no right using the female facilities!

True or False?

Trans people have just as much rights using the facilities of the gender they identify and here is why…

Here is why:

Washroom Facilities

  • The Ontario Human Rights Code states individuals should be given access to the washrooms or change facilities of their “lived gender” or unless requested for safety reason. *side note: my lived gender is female. Though I still have some male features, I identify as female, I dress female, I live on the female floor at the shelter, everyone I recently met know me as female therefore my lived gender is female.*
  • The code also states “the duty to accommodate is the legal obligation that employers, unions, landlords, and service providers have under the code. The goal of accommodation is to allow equal benefit from participation in services, housing, or the workplace. It is a shared responsibility and everyone involved, including the person seeking accommodation should cooperate in the process, share information and jointly explore accommodation solutions.*note: family change room should be reserved for families, not single people*

The City of Toronto statement on access and diversity. The city will create an environment of equality in the government and community for all people regardless of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, disability, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, same sex partnership, age, marital status, family status, immigrant status, receipt of public assistance, political affiliation, religious affiliation, level of literacy, language and/or socio-economic status.

The City of Toronto has made positive changes in its workforce and communities to access and equality of outcomes for all residents to create a harmonious environment free from discrimination, harassment and hate.

Imagine how you would feel if you were forced to change in a facility that was not safe or not a proper place to get changed?

I come not to point fingers but to educate.

Last but not least if a person is uncomfortable with a trans person using the change facilities or washrooms, they should ask themselves why they feel threatened by a person who is merely different. Unless they are causing an issue they have every right to be there.

Pop quiz:

What is extreme discomfort with your gender called?

  • Gender distortion
  • Sexual identity
  • Intersex
  • Gender dysphoria

Does gender identity have anything to do with sexual orientation?

Yes  …………..  No

  • Provide accurate and current information to increase awareness and educate
  • Increase coping strategies to support healthier choices
  • Increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS and HEP C
  • Promote acceptance, increase positive social participation
  • Engage youth in pro-social peer discussions/interaction
  • Engage youth in actively participating/facilitating groups to increase sense of accomplishment/positive feelings
  • Learn effective strategies for safer interactions
  • Help prevent the spread of new infections of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C
  • Teach youth safe practices and universal precautions
  • Learn about community resources
  • Youth ages 16-24, living in the shelter or in the community (supportive or independent living)
  • Short attention span, need high energy, increased participation and engagement strategies/activities
  • Establish rules for group safety (with participants input and the non-negotiable rules we  must have whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 45-60 minutes; breaks scheduled at a third way or half way through   the group; or when needed

Create an outline that break topic into sections (manageable topics for 45 minute sessions), including activities, handouts, resources needed and any community presenters; ensure sequence creates flow, builds momentum, increases engagement and achieves best result

  • Introduction
    • establish/review rules
    • introduce topic
    • what to expect
  • Section A
    • Activity 1 – Myths vs. Reality
  • Discussion Topics
    • What is the Difference Between HIV and AIDS
    • How Is It Transmitted?
    • Signs of Infection
  • Break (5-10 minutes)
  • Section B
    • Activity 2- Watch It Spread
  • Discussion Topics
    • What is Hep C?
    • How is Hep C transmitted
    • How to reduce your chances of contracting HIV or HEP C
    • Pictures of a healthy liver and an unhealthy liver
  • Wrap up / Handouts / Survey

Activity 1 True or False – Myths vs. Reality

What you do think?

  1. Put up the ‘STRONGLY AGREE’ and ‘STRONGLY DISAGREE’ sheets on the wall at opposite ends of the room.
  2. Explain to the group as a whole that you will read out a series of statements, one at a time. Each person is to think about whether they agree or disagree with it, and move to the appropriate side of the room. It is all right to stay in the middle if they are uncertain.
  3. Hand out the True or False Question sheet and read the first statement. Once everyone has moved to their chosen place, ask members to choose one person near them and discuss why they are standing where they are.
  4. Now ask people to choose one person standing as far away from them as possible, and to discuss the statement with them, explaining why each has chosen to be where they are.
  5. Repeat the procedure with as many statements as time allows.
  6. Re-assemble as a group and, going round the group, ask each individual to identify one piece of information they are confused or unclear about. Ask members of the group to clarify the issues involved and intervene yourself where necessary.

Likely outcomes

At the end of the exercise, it will be clear what areas of uncertainty remain. Individuals will have had a chance to think about ways of HIV transmission, and to discuss these with other group members. People can sometimes become quarrelsome during this exercise so you may need to intervene to settle disputes.

True/False Question Sheet

  1. You can become infected with HIV by sleeping around.
  2. Injecting drugs will give you HIV.
  3. You can get HIV from toilet seats.
  4. If you are fit and healthy you won’t become infected with HIV.
  5. Married people don’t become infected with HIV.
  6. If you stick with one partner you won’t become infected with HIV.
  7. Women are safe from HIV as long as they use a contraceptive.
  8. You can become infected with HIV from sharing toothbrushes.
  9. If you have sex with people who look healthy, you won’t become infected with HIV.
  10. If you only have sex with people you know, you won’t become infected with HIV.
  11. Anal sex between two men is more risky than anal sex between a man and a woman.
  12. You can become infected with HIV from kissing.
  13. A man can become infected with HIV if he has oral sex with a woman.
  14. A woman can become infected with HIV if she has oral sex with a man.
  15. Condoms can stop you becoming infected with HIV.

True/False Answer Sheet

  1. Sleeping around is not in itself risky, but having unprotected sex with an infected person is. By using condoms properly and consistently you can substantially reduce the risk of infection.
  2. Only if the needle or syringe has been contaminated with HIV. Injecting drug users should always use a clean needle and syringe.
  3. There are no known cases of HIV infection via toilet seats.
  4. It does not matter how healthy or unhealthy you are, if you engage in risky activities you stand a chance of being infected.
  5. This depends on the partners involved, what they did before they met, whether either has unprotected sex outside of the marriage or injects drugs using contaminated equipment. Marriage by itself offers no guarantees of safety.
  6. Reference Number 5
  7. Only condoms offer women protection against HIV, and even condoms cannot offer complete safety. Other forms of contraception do not offer protection from HIV.
  8. There is no evidence of transmission via this route, but it is sensible not to share toothbrushes for general health reasons.
  9. Most people with HIV will look perfectly healthy. Looks are therefore a useless way of assessing risk.
  10. Knowing someone well offers no reliable guide to whether or not they are infected with HIV.
  11. Anal sex is equally risky regardless of whether it takes place between two men or a man and a woman.
  12. There is no evidence of transmission in this way, although kissing when there are sores or cuts in the mouth may pose some risk.
  13. HIV is present in cervical and vaginal secretions as well as in (menstrual) blood, so there is the possibility of transmission this way.
  14. HIV is present in semen so there is a possibility of transmission in this way.
  15. Condoms used properly will help to prevent transmission of HIV from an infected partner to an uninfected partner. Condoms are not 100% safe though. Use a lubricant which is water based, as oil based lubricants can weaken the condom. When buying condoms check the ‘sell by’ date.

What is the Difference between HIV and AIDS

Ask the group if anyone knows what HIV stands for – Human immunodeficiency virus

Can anyone explain what HIV does inside the body? Let them present you with their opinions then explain:

HIV attacks the body’s immune system which is our body’s defense against infection and disease, and weakens it over time. A person who has HIV gradually loses the protection of his or her immune system and begins to experience health problems. These may be fairly small problems at first – skin problems or yeast infections – but over time the illnesses become more serious. The amount of time that it takes HIV to begin to affect a person’s health varies widely from one individual to another. When a person is diagnosed with one of the serious illnesses or cancers which are “AIDS-defining,” the person is then said to have AIDS.

More AIDS defining diseases can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_defining_clinical_condition

HIV attacks the immune system mainly by damaging the CD4 (also known as T4 or T-helper) cells which help the body fight off diseases. HIV can also have direct effects upon the body. For example, the virus can attack cells in the brain and impair the brain’s function.

Ask the group if anyone knows what AIDS stands for – Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

**Emphasis that on average: Every 2 hours, someone in Canada is infected with HIV.**

Ask youth what 5 fluids can contain enough of the virus to infect another person.

HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another person through blood, semen (also known as “cum,”), vaginal fluids, anal secretions and breast milk.

Ask youth what type of high-risk behaviors the virus is spread through.

The main two causes of transmission are:

  • Unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sexual intercourse
  • Sharing needles and works (including needles used for injecting steroids) and those used for tattooing

People who have another sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis are at greater risk for getting HIV during sex with infected partners.

If a woman with HIV is pregnant, her newborn baby can catch the virus from her before birth, during the birthing process, or from breastfeeding. If doctors know an expectant mother has HIV, they can usually prevent the spread of the virus from mother to baby.

How Do People Know They Have HIV?

Once a person’s blood lacks the number of CD4 cells required to fight infections, or the person has signs of specific illnesses or diseases that occur in people with HIV infection, doctors make a diagnosis of AIDS.

Severe symptoms of HIV infection and AIDS may not appear for 10 years and for years leading up to that, a person may not have symptoms at all. The amount of time it takes for symptoms of AIDS to appear varies from person to person. Some people may feel and look healthy for years while they are infected with HIV. It is still possible to infect others with HIV, even if the person with the virus has absolutely no symptoms. You cannot tell simply by looking at someone whether he or she is infected.

When a person’s immune system is overwhelmed by AIDS, the symptoms can include:

  • extreme weakness or fatigue
  • rapid weight loss
  • frequent fevers that last for several weeks with no explanation
  • heavy sweating at night
  • swollen lymph glands
  • minor infections that cause skin rashes and mouth, genital, and anal sores
  • white spots in the mouth or throat
  • chronic diarrhea
  • a cough that won’t go away

Activity 2 Watch it Spread

Materials needed:

  • If there are 10 participants, you will need 10 small cups
  • Water, vinegar and baking soda
  • Marker

Activity Set Up:

  1. Mark the bottom of 1 cup with the letter S for STI.
  2. Mark the bottom of another cup with the letter I for injection drug user.
  3. Fill these 2 cups half full of vinegar
  4. Fill the rest of the cups half full of tap water

Explain to the group as a whole that this exercise will show them how easily infections can be passed on from person to person.

Hand out the cups at random and do not tell the participants that the cups are marked.

Ask the youth to walk around the room carrying their cup with them. When you say STOP, the youth will have to start a conversation about HEP C with the person closest to them.

Give approximately them 2 minutes to converse with each other.  At the end of 2 minutes the youth will pour all of their liquid into their conversation partner’s cup causing the liquids to mix, then pour half of it back into their own cup.

Have them do this twice, but emphasis that they need to have a different partner each time.

The first time they are told to stop, have them discuss different ways that HEP C can be contracted.

The second time they stop, have them discuss how the virus affects the body.

Bring the group back to a whole, go around the table and put a small amount of baking soda into each of their cups. The cups containing vinegar will foam. This means that they have contracted the virus. Allow them to look at the bottom of their cups to learn that only 2 of them started out with a virus and it has now spread to almost everyone in the room.

Likely Outcome

Youth will get a visual on how easily viruses can be passed on from person to person.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver disease. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is the painful, red swelling that appears when tissues of the body become injured or infected.

How does liver damage occur in hepatitis C infection?

Over time (usually decades), prolonged inflammation may cause scarring. Extensive scarring in the liver is called cirrhosis. When the liver becomes cirrhotic, the liver fails to perform its normal functions, (liver failure), and this leads to serious complications and even death. Cirrhotic livers also are more prone to become cancerous.

What is the liver?

The liver is an organ that does many important things such as:

  • removes harmful chemicals from your blood
  • fights infection
  • helps digest food
  • stores nutrients and vitamins
  • stores energy

You cannot live without a liver.

HCV is spread (transmitted) most efficiently through inadvertent exposure to infected blood.

  • The most common route of transmission is needles or pipes shared among drug users
  • Accidental needle-sticks have also transmitted the virus.
  • All blood products are screened for HCV, and cases of HCV due to blood transfusion now are extremely rare.
  • HCV also can be passed from mother to unborn child. Approximately 4 of every 100 infants born to HCV-infected mothers become infected with the virus.
  • having sex with an infected person
  • being tattooed or pierced with unsterilized tools that were used on an infected person
  • using an infected person’s razor or toothbrush
  • Finally, there have been some outbreaks of HCV when instruments or sharp tool have been re-used without appropriate cleaning between patients. (spas, jails)
  • How to reduce your chances of contracting HIV or HEP C
  • Programs have been aimed at avoiding needle sharing among drug addicts. Needle exchange programs and educational interventions have reduced high-risk behaviors. However, the population of drug addicts is a difficult population to reach, and rates of HCV remain high among addicts (30% of younger users).
  • Among healthcare workers, safe needle-usage techniques have been developed to reduce accidental needle-sticks. Newer syringes have self-capping needle systems that avoid the need to manually replace a cap after drawing blood and reduce the risk of needle-sticks.
  • There is no clear way to prevent transmission of the HCV from mother to child.
  • Persons with multiple sexual partners should use barrier precautions such as condoms to limit the risk of HCV as well as other sexually-transmitted diseases.
  • Monogamous couples should consider the low risk of transmission when deciding whether to use condoms during intercourse. Some couples may decide to use them and some may not.
  • Screening tests for blood products have almost eliminated the risk of transmission through transfusion, estimated by the CDC to be less than one in two million transfused blood products.
  • People with HCV should not share razors or toothbrushes with others.
  • It is critical that physicians and clinics follow manufacturer’s directions for sterilizing/cleaning instruments and that disposable, sharp instruments be discarded properly.

Developing Modules for Group Facilitated Programs

Program Delivery at Satellite


(Overall purpose of group facilitated programming at Satellite, for the following groups, Hot Topics, Sex & Relationships, Youth against Hate, Creative Self-Expression, Men’s Group, Women’s Group, Drug and Alcohol Awareness Group(DAAG), etc.)

  • Provide accurate and current information to increase awareness and educate
  • Increase coping strategies to support healthier choices
  • Increase knowledge to empower, build self-confidence and increase self-awareness
  • Promote positive coping skills to increase greater
  • Promote acceptance, increase positive social participation
  • Engage youth in pro-social peer discussions/interaction
  • Engage youth in actively participating/facilitating groups to increase sense of accomplishment/positive feelings

(group specific and module specific objectives; identify client’s need met by the specific topic being covered; identify primary (2-3 objectives) that the participants will have learned from this module/topic, how does it increasing participants’ ability to connect with resources (internal and externals) on cognitive, emotional and physical levels)

  • Learn effective strategies for stress management
  • Learn to identify triggers and ways to cope when triggered
  • Learn effective communication skills to express needs, wants and feelings proactively
  • Learn collaborative skills to accomplish tasks, meet needs, etc.
  • Learn about their rights and responsibilities when involved with the law
  • Learn more strategies to  address anger/frustration
  • Learn money management strategies/budgeting
  • Learn about community resources
  • Expand understanding of self, identify positive & negative coping skills
  • Increase range of coping skills to address relationship issues/anger management/drug and alcohol use/healthy nutrition & exercises, abuse/violence, etc.

(group-specific and module specific approaches; identify audience and age-appropriate approaches, identify activities, identify subsections for the topic being covered, establish timeframe/timeline, identify rules of conduct,  behaviour management approaches to address issues that come up, identify need for facilitator/co-facilitator/peer facilitator/ youth facilitator)

  • Youth ages 16-24, living in the shelter or in the community (supportive or independent living)
  • Short attention span, need high energy, increased participation and engagement strategies/activities
  • Establish rules for group safety (with participants input and the non-negotiable rules we  must have whenever groups are delivered)
  • Time frame for groups will be 45-60 minutes; breaks scheduled at 1/3 or 1/2 time of the group; breaks may also be needed to defuse situations where group dynamics need to be refocused/re-established

(Create an outline that break topic into sections (manageable topics for 45 minute sessions), including activities, handouts, resources needed and any community presenters; ensure sequence creates flow, builds momentum, increases engagement and achieves best result)

  • Introduction
    • establish/review rules
    • introduce topic
    • what to expect
  • Section A
    • Handout
    • Activity
    • Discussion
  • Break (5-10 minutes)
  • Section B
    • Short Video
    • Discussion
    • Wrap up / Handouts / Survey

(identify equipment needed, space, booking community speakers, booking community space, materials, any expenses (tokens, food money, etc.), handouts, videos, rec equipment, community resource lists/pamphlets, etc.)

  • Need lap top, access to YouTube
  • Book boardroom or gym space or dining room area, etc.
  • Outing ($ per youth)
  • Rent video ($)
  • Order snacks ($)
  • Access to Hula Hoops/skipping ropes/balls/etc.
  • Pick up materials from ACT or Public Health
  • List of community drop ins (food access, help with resumes, legal clinics)

(Regular feedback is necessary from participants to ensure groups are effective at meeting participants’ needs; regular feedback also enables us to identify emerging needs, enabling us to stay current as groups/topics and approaches are revamped)

  • Draft a standard feedback form with 3-5 questions to capture participants input (you want feedback on level of interest, fun, learn something new, activities, etc.)
  • Ensure questions have a combination of answers (checking box, yes or no, short reply)
  • Determine timeline for giving them out (every 3 months for a period of a month; or random sample once a month, at the end of the cycle of modules 8 weeks/6 weeks/etc.)
  • Running recreational activities
    • Basketball
    • Volleyball
    • Ping-Pong
  • Running DAAG group
  • Informational seminars for other youths in or outside the shelter
    • Drug use and its effects
    • Trans health and stigmas
    • HIV, Hepatitis and AIDS
    • Sports and other recreation activities
Young man wearing an Eva's branded shirt. at Eva's Satellite.Schedule/scheduling

Once the training section of the program has been completed the peers will now be giving shifts to work. They can run activities either listed above or more relevant ones to the program/location/facility. Depending on the number of peers there are, shifts will need to be distributed evenly over 4 weeks, to ensure equal number of hours of work per peer. As seen in the current contract each peer is obligated to complete 2 hours per week of work time. Similar rules are in-place in the contract to keep hours for the work portion of the program. Peers must give sufficient time before canceling an event or will lose their pay for that day and after missing enough sessions without notification a conversion with the project coordinator needs to take place.

What Activities and Who Decides Them

Usually some of the activities that peers run may already be in place at the facility and thus peers can just take over supervision roles of that activity.  However activities can and should also be created specifically to give opportunities for peers to work and implement some of the learned skills. It is a discussion between the project coordinator and the peers that determines which activities they can and eventually will run. Some peers may have a preference, a specialty or need for a specific activity or program.  These should be discussed in advance with staff as well so that all parties involved in the delivery of the activity or program knows their role and delivers the best service possible. Also the list of activities that are in section 3.4.1 is far from exhaustive and developing programs/activities that are specific to the peers in your current program is always advised.

Who Supervises Each Shift

Either the project coordinator or any of the other staff that have been assisting in the project oversee the first few events that the peers run. Once staff is satisfied that the peers can successfully run an event they may proceed to let them facilitate alone if they deem it appropriate. Regular check-ins and debriefs after each session is necessary to help with potential issues and help peers and staff adapt to different situations that may arise.


In the YARD project, we faced 2 real challenges – retention of the youth and getting them to participate in the activities. As we faced these challenges in the project, we addressed them by making adjustments to different aspects of the project.


Due to the transient nature of the youth, it was difficult to maintain their involvement in project activities for a long period of time. Some of the adjustments made to project activities are as follows and should be considered when engaging young people in similar projects:

  • Reducing the length of training (in our case, reduce from 6 weeks to 4 weeks)
  • Allowing youth to make up the hours for missed shifts, when they provide valid reasons
  • Maintaining a consistent schedule (times and days)  throughout the work and training sessions
  • Encouraging more group work which produces more input engagement and follow through
  • Being sensitive to the impact of mental health and substance use


Engaging homeless youth in activities is sometimes very challenging, even when the activities developed are based on their own input and suggestions. As we encountered this challenge in the YARD project, these are the changes we made to address them:

  • Involving more staff with different program responsibilities
  • Being flexible- adding, dropping, revising and changing activities as often as needed
  • Assigning activities to specific staff so that there is greater consistency
  • Allowing sufficient amount of time for the activities
  • Ensuring that staff are very engaging
  • Giving Peer Leaders specific responsibilities to lead project activities
  • Staff keeping track of youth’s attendance in activities while at the same time, ensuring youth are accountable for their own time
  • Encouraging case managers to be engaged in the project to help hold youth accountable for their participation in the project

In the overall project, despite some of the challenges we encountered, we were able to do the following:

  • Be flexible in our delivery approach
  • Offer shorter training sessions in response to some of the retention issues
  • Assign to specific staff different programs or activities

When it came to group projects, we were able to do the following:

  • Pair the youth up for projects or have them work in teams instead of working individually
  • Go with what youth want
  • Focus projects on events which provide a clear and public outcome of their work
  • Have the Peers lead their chosen activities
  • Have more staff available at different times to schedule and supervise the work of the Peers
  • Assign Peer Leaders with an Advanced Peer Leader to allow for mentoring
  • Making changes to the forms as necessary to make them easier to complete and more understandable
  • Ensure case managers are more involved in the project with youth to increase accountability

For future projects, we offer the following recommendations:

  • Minimize the amount of lecture-based trainings and ensure they are more interactive
  • For shelter projects, involve only residents for easier tracking of participants and greater engagement
  • Focus activities on sports activities or specific group work for increased participation
Young people working on the Eva's Satellite rooftop garden,

YARD roof top garden planting

Link to the Project

Project Description/Overview

The desired immediate and intermediate outcomes for YARD are provided below and outlined in more detail in the Logic Model in Appendix N.

  • Increased knowledge related to factors associated with resiliency
  • Increased knowledge of the impact of illicit drug use on youth
  • Increased knowledge related to drug use prevention and risk reduction strategies for youth.
  • Increased knowledge about how to support peers in making choices that reduce risks and prevent drug use
  • Increased knowledge of illicit drug use and consequences.
  • Increased knowledge about the benefits of participating in recreation and leisure activities.
  • Increased knowledge about ways to improve program interventions related to drug use prevention and risk reduction.
  • Increased knowledge about how to promote illicit drug use prevention to youth at risk.
  • Increased capacity to make decisions that reduce the risk of illicit drug use among youth at risk
  • Increased capacity to make informed decisions that reduce the risk of illicit drug use among youth aged 16 – 24 who are homeless and residing or accessing services at Eva’s Satellite.
  • Increased resiliency of youth.

Eva’s Satellite will coordinate and implement YARD in partnership with, YOUTHLINK Inner city and Central Toronto Youth Services and with support from Inner City Health Associates. Inner City Health Associates is a group of physicians that will provide youth participants with primary health care and psychiatric services within the shelter. They will participate in and co-facilitate weekly case management meetings with the Project Coordinator and Youth Service Workers to ensure coordinated care is provided to the youth. They will also participate in the Project Advisory Committee and assist with project evaluation as needed. YOUTHLINK Inner City will provide consultative support and guidance in helping to develop and evaluate the peer support program. They will also provide trained peer educators to facilitate workshops on life skills programming and support referrals for the youth. Central Toronto Youth Services will provide a Mental Health Worker who will provide case management and referrals and participate in the Project Advisory Committee and assist with evaluation activities as needed.

Youth Action to Reduce Drug Use Project Evaluation Plan, October 7, 2010 Version 5 5 StrategiSense Inc.

In addition, YARD will strive to provide meaningful opportunities for youth to participate in the development, planning, implementation and evaluation of the project. YARD commenced in May 2010 and is scheduled to be complete by March 2013.

The main activities of YARD are as follows:

  • Convene quarterly meetings of a Project Advisory Committee consisting of youth residing in the shelter, staff of Eva’s Satellite and one staff representative from each partnering organization.
  • Recruit and train 16 Peer Leaders to support the delivery of YARD programming.
  • Implement programming targeted at the unique needs of the target youth, including:
    • Drop-in recreation programming.
    • Recreation outings to community, arts, cultural and sporting events.
    • Health and drug education workshops using fun and interactive activities such as trivia games and role-playing.
    • Fitness classes for residents of Eva’s Satellite.
    • Stress management sessions for youth with guest speakers, meditation and yoga.
    • Training sessions for Peer Leaders on providing peer support and health and drug education workshops.
    • Peer-led support and drug education sessions/workshops.
  • Conduct a process and outcome evaluation.
  • Create a project manual and develop a program model.
  • Disseminate findings across Canada through the Eva’s National Initiatives and the Learning Community through the following approaches:
    • Posting of materials and tools on the Eva’s and Learning Community web-sites;
    • Communications strategy including notification of program tools available through Collaborative Learning, Tamarack, National Network on Youth Homelessness, national Learning Community;
    • Participation in 3-5 conferences or meetings annually; and
    • Responding to requests for information from community organizations, government representatives and funders.

Eva’s Satellite will also ensure that findings are continuously shared with the other shelters of Eva’s Initiatives (Eva’s Place and Eva’s Phoenix) through quarterly leadership meetings and with the Board of Directors through presentations at monthly Board meetings. Within local networks, Eva’s Satellite will present and disseminate the evaluation report and manual as a program model. Finally, Eva’s Satellite will distribute the findings to all project and agency partners, post documents on their website and share findings at relevant conferences and workshops.

Purpose of Evaluation

The purpose of the evaluation is to identify:

  • The extent to which the YARD project is successful in reducing illicit drug use among youth aged 16-24 who are homeless and using illicit drugs residing or accessing services at Eva’s Satellite.
  • To identify the key activities, processes, indicators and stakeholders for the YARD project; determine how each project objective/activity was implemented and how it operates; and identify procedures undertaken and decisions made during each process; and document what was done, when, by whom and to whom.
Sunflower, close up.

Youth photo: 2012

Questions that will be answered through the evaluation include:

  • How and to what degree were project objectives achieved?
  • Were project activities carried out as intended (to task and within timelines)?
  • What factors contributed to the outcomes of the project?
  • For the participating youth, did the project:
    • Improve attitudes related to factors associated with resiliency (e.g., self-worth, coping skills, sense of belonging, cooperation and communication, empathy, problem solving, self-efficacy, self-awareness, and goals and aspirations).
    • Increase knowledge of the impact of illicit drug use among Eva’s Satellite youth aged 16-24 years
    • Increase knowledge about the benefits of participating in recreation and leisure activities.

The Logic Model, Appendix N, outlines the specific activities, outputs, immediate, intermediate and long term outcomes for YARD.

Interim evaluation findings will be used by the project leadership to inform peer led project within the agency, ensuring best practices in engaging and delivering programs.  Final evaluation findings will be used to inform future program design and delivery both within Eva’s Satellite, their partners, and peers both locally and nationally.

Logic Model

Please refer to Appendix N: Logic Model

Development of Pre/Post Test

Peer Leaders underwent training and work components in their involvement in YARD. The evaluation used pre and post surveys to measure changes in attitudes, knowledge and behaviours as a result of their involvement. Originally, the pre surveys were to be administered at the beginning of the 4 week training component and the post surveys administered at the end of the 4 week work component. But due to attrition, the post survey was administered at the end of the 1st week of the work component.

Both the pre and post survey were designed to answer questions in the evaluation framework for the YARD program and specifically to examine changes about attitudes and knowledge about:

  1. The impacts of illicit drug use
  2. Illicit drug use prevention
  3. Peer support to help other youth in making choices that reduce risks and prevent drug use and
    1. Resiliency factors

Further revisions of both the pre and post surveys were completed to included overarching outcome indicators requested from the funder. The final surveys included the following sections:

  1. Demographics
  2. Expectations of YARD (pre survey only)
  3. Satisfaction with YARD (post survey only)
  4. Improvements, successes and impacts of YARD on participants (post survey only, qualitative responses)
  5. Knowledge of where to go for information and support about illegal drugs
  6. How participants feel about themselves (resiliency and peer support indicators)
  7. Recreational and social activities
  8. Attitudes and knowledge about the impact of illicit drug use
  9. Likelihood of using or trying illicit drugs in the next 12 months
  10. Leadership skills
  11. Communication skills
  12. Employability traits
Final Evaluation Report

The purpose of this report is to provide a summary of the process (formative) and outcome evaluation findings for YARD for the period April 2010 to March 31 2013 and to highlight lessons learned and opportunities for projects of a similar nature.


The development of this project was a collaborative effort that involved many people, many hours, courage, determination, dedication and the willingness to try new things, to listen to youth, to review, reassess, revise, and integrate what was needed so we could develop a model that highlighted best practices for future peer-based projects.

YARD was possible due to the funding support received from Health Canada.  Our community partners were instrumental in helping us shape this manual and peer model approach.  Eva’s staff, whose passion for ensuring youth voice was captured, and who supported, acknowledged, integrated and rewarded them, was foundational to the success of this project.  The youth, whether peer leaders or participants, made this project possible. They provided inspiration, knowledge, insights and lived-experiences which enabled us to develop this model for peer-led projects.

The findings of the evaluation indicate that there is consensus from across the stakeholders interviewed and from the survey data and case conference sessions that the overall goals of the program were met. Participants in the overall evaluation reported that the project had contributed to meeting the desired outcomes for peers and program participants.  In addition, the following outcomes were achieved:

  • Very positive sense of engagement for the youth, many of whom had significantly complex issues. Some youth were dealing with very serious and persistent mental illness (both diagnosed and undiagnosed).
  • Peers that had personal circumstances arise were more likely to rearrange them and make it to work to participate in the training or group organized work.
  • Wide range of recreation activities were instrumental in reducing drug use amongst the youth.  Opportunities to engage in more recreational activities were helpful in reducing their drug use.

The results from the overall evaluation indicate that there is strong evidence to support that YARD project  has had a positive impact on peer leaders and participants.  Eva’s Initiatives is committed to ensuring this model is shared with other agencies across Canada, as we continue to advocate for resources, effective programs and better supports for homeless and street-involved youth.

Values and Ethics for the Public Service

The Drug Strategy Community Initiatives Fund

Drugs in the Body

Youth Action to Reduce Drug Use Project Evaluation Plan, October 7, 2010 Version 5

Want more information about the YARD Toolkit? Contact us.

Phone: 416-977-4497
Email: [email protected]