Local anti-bullying initiative wraps up
Thursday, Nov 09, 2017 06:00 am
Two Airdrie agencies which received funding to implement anti-bullying education programs presented the results from that three-year initiative to Airdrie City council Nov. 6.
The Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie (BGCA) and North Rocky View Community Links each received funding from the City of $12,000 per year for three years to develop and implement programs and materials aimed at educating people about bullying.
“The City’s strategy to address bullying consisted of a multi-year contract to third party agencies to deliver the education and awareness component that was targeted primarily to the youth population,” said Pauline Clark, social planner.
Christopher Cameron of Objective Research and Evaluation Inc., was hired in 2017 to evaluate the scope and results of the initiative.
Cameron reported nearly 93 per cent of participants in the various programs offered by the two agencies noted an increase in bullying awareness.
Laurie Jacob-Toews, community development services manager at Community Links, said the key highlight for her organization was that the scope of the project expanded to all age groups, not just youth.
“We also reached out to seniors. We did a couple of seniors bullying through the ages presentations to talk about how seniors can support people in their own lives and even how they may experience bullying within their own circle of friends,” she said.
Cameron said a key recommendation to come out of the evaluation is that the City should not try to “reinvent the wheel” when looking at ways to develop an initiative for dealing with systemic bullying.
“Lots of different organizations have developed evidence-informed, free of cost tools and resources for communities looking to address bullying,” he said. “I think it’s important to look at what some of those things are and to learn from them.
“Don’t invest in building more tools; take advantage of the tools that are available and bring the community together to look at those and then develop strategies that would suit that, as opposed to going backwards.”
Cassandra Clem, director of programming and services at the BGCA, said she agreed with that recommendation.
“I think if (the City is) looking for a greater population to reach and more community involvement then the recommendations are solid, because I agree that two agencies in Airdrie together can’t change bullying,” she said. “We can provide awareness and education around it but we can’t stop it and create a giant movement. There needs to be so much more involvement.”
Cameron said he was also recommending the City use available funding or seek provincial or federal funding to ensure funding for the various stakeholders to be included in the any initiative that is developed. He also recommended any initiatives that are undertaken be evaluated by an outside source to ensure the approach is handled properly.
Council unanimously approved the report and supported its recommendations, including a recommendation the results of the evaluation be shared with the Airdrie and Area Resource Council – comprised of representatives from human services, health services and education – and the school interagency committee, including the RCMP school resource officers.