Petites idées 10 000 $

Description :

Over 43,000 refugees arrived in Canada in 2017, and almost half (47%) were under 17 years of age (Government of Canada, 2017). Many of these refugee adolescents attend public schools in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Due to disrupted schooling, language barriers, trauma exposure, and settlement difficulties, these youth are at significant risk of internalizing problems (e.g., depression) or externalizing behaviors (e.g., aggressive behavior) (Beiger & Hour, 2016). Interestingly, despite these issues, various studies have shown that refugee families persistently tend to underutilize mental health services because they are afraid of stigmatization. To address these issues, Friendship in Action (FIA) runs Kids Helping Kids (KHK), a school-based, peer support program specifically designed for newcomer youth aged 10 to 15 years. The goal of this program is to help refugee students integrate more easily in Canada by learning how to: talk about risk and protective factors in their lives, listen to their peers, and connect with one another by offering support and advice.
-Newcomer students in schools within the GTA decide whether they want to participate in this program. The school administration then chooses the students who need the program the most.
- Students meet one hour per week over the course of 8 weeks with FIA facilitators who are experienced teachers and specifically trained to be in the role of a facilitator.
- Students establish their own Norms for their group: guidelines to ensure ownership of the process and the safety required to share sensitive issues with their peers. Each weekly session begins with a review of these Norms to guarantee comfort.
- Participants can speak about any significant topics in their lives, both positive and distressing, receiving support from their peers as they do so. To help newcomers open up, we use a variety of tools including the “Tree of Life” narrative activity in which the students use the tree metaphor to identify their strengths and resources by writing or drawing various aspects of their lives in different parts of a tree (e.g., positive aspects of their cultural background in the roots, their present situation in the ground, their personal skills on the trunk, hopes and dreams on the branches, etc.). They will write down their fears and challenges in boxes next to the tree. They will then create strengthening stories of their lives.
- Students are the ones who decide if they want to talk about any specific aspect of their lives. Facilitators do not set topics or give advice but guide youth through the process of peer support by modeling positive behaviors.
- Students can choose the language they would like to communicate in during the KHK sessions. If the language is not English we will use trained translators.

In our years of experience conducting and revising this program for students from a variety of backgrounds, we realized that our program is most needed by as well as being most beneficial for newcomer students. This fact did not come as a surprise as UNICEF (2016) reported that young immigrants continue to suffer from severe psychological distress due to their pre-migration experiences, coupled with the difficult circumstances associated with resettlement.
FIA is applying for an Aviva Grant to scale-up our already successful KHK program, to reach youth facing barriers and who are otherwise unable to access the KHK program. Our learning from this year demonstrates that public schools in many low-income areas that have the highest newcomer populations are interested but cannot participate in our program due to financial restrictions. This grant would allow us to offer the KHK program to these schools with the goal to reach 396 refugee students in 33 series over 12 months, ensuring many more refugee students are given the opportunity to Talk, Listen and Connect with their peers and become integrated, contributing members of their communities.

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Friendship In Action

Emplacement : Toronto