The Rainy River Substance Abuse Program Team, along with district resident Freeda Carmody, have been recognized for their contributions to safety in our district with “Ambassador for Safety” awards from Safe Communities Canada.
Nominated by Safe Communities Rainy River District (SCRRD), the SAPT was saluted for its work as a community service partner while Carmody was recognized for her years of volunteer work.
“[SAPT], under the co-ordination of Hugh Dennis, was very active and established a great rapport with our First Nation youth of the Rainy River District,” Grace Silander, administrative co-ordinator for the local safety group, said about the reason behind presenting it with the award.
She noted the local SCRRD has “struggled” with reaching out to this target group.
The SAPT modified a delivery method used by the Northwestern Health Unit, she said, with the project dubbed “photo voice.”
“Through pictures and captions, youth from First Nation communities and each high school in the district were challenged to tell their stories of what makes them use or not use alcohol and drugs,” Silander explained.
In total, four programs were completed with the youth population, as well as another one for the elders in one of the First Nation communities.
“Great work is beginning as a result of this innovative program,” Silander lauded.
“It is too early to identify how effective the information and program has been with the youth, [but] we see promising change.”
Carmody, a councillor for La Vallee Township, was recognized for her many years working with the safety coalition and time spent on the board of directors for the SCRRD.
“Freeda has been absolutely wonderful for us,” said Silander. “She’s working behind the scenes and advocating for us within the district.
“She’s an active member of the municipal association of the Rainy River District, and she encourages each municipality to continue with their per capita [funding] and their support for our group efforts,” Silander added.
“We rely on this per capita funding for our sustainability, and without Freeda, I’m not sure how many municipalities would continue our support,” she stressed.
As well, Carmody has been an active volunteer in delivering Safe Communities programming, such as the many hours spent at information booths at the Emo Fall Fair and the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce trade show.
“I think to add up the numbers of the hours that Freeda has put forward to our cause would be absolutely impossible,” Silander said.
“She seems to be always there helping and encouraging, and she is truly one of the backbones of our success.”
“I just feel very honoured, really honoured,” Carmody said. “To me it’s a real prestigious award.”
Delivering the message to municipalities about how important safety is in the district is what Carmody feels has been her biggest accomplishment as a volunteer with the program.
“And how the funds are needed to back every program that we have, and there’s such a variety of programs that covers seniors to young children,” she noted.
Meanwhile, SAPT’s photo voice project is very much “youth leading youth,” said program co-ordinator Hugh Dennis.
“The youth that participated in this program are the leaders of our community and our future,” he lauded.
The photo videos produced by the teenagers now are being shown to younger kids in elementary schools so they can see older youth making wise decisions about “avoiding the trap of substance abuse.”
“When you show these videos to the younger elementary school kids, they’re absolutely mesmerized by it,” Dennis said.
“To have a youth speaking to them through video—it’s their medium.
“And to be a part of that through the SAPT team, and to be recognized by Safe Communities Canada, is what it’s all about.”
Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. was recognized last month with a Safe Communities Canada “Ambassador of Safety Award” for businesses.