Algonquin has put in place a two-year funding plan a harm reduction program, which was established in April 2015.
With this funding, the project’s staff will aim to create a harm-reduction framework for the college.
‘‘We have pursued funding for two years to give us the time to create something sustainable for the rest of Algonquin’s existence’’ said Amanda Neilson, the project’s Harm Reduction Consultant.
‘‘One of our main goals is also to be able to support all students at the college,’’ she added.
The Umbrella Project is available to all students, whether they consume drugs or not. Students can see it as a type of learning experience.
The staff members organize tabling where they provide students with pamphlets and flyers. These sheets give them extra information on the project and on how people can reduce the problematic effects of drug use.
Their most recent initiative has been the addition of the e-TOKE and e-CHUG on the college’s website. These are online surveys that students can fill out with personal or random information from which the questionnaire builds a profile to compare with local and national college and university norms.
‘‘When the students understand the risks that are involved, then they’re able to make the best choices for their lives,’’ said Amanda Neilson.
Contrary to what many may believe, the Umbrella Project’s goal is not to counter the use of drugs. The main objective is to raise awareness about the negative effects that drug use can have on life in general.
‘‘We want to make the students’ lives better, whether it’s at school, at work or in their relationships,’’ said Neilson.
The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) is the next step for this project. On March 7, this nation-wide online health survey will be available to students on all three Algonquin campuses.
The project manager, Polly Leonard, and other consultants say that they will need a minimum of 800 students to take the survey.
That would allow them to better understand the different needs of Algonquin students and therefore be able to design effective support services.
Leonard believes that the staff’s enthusiasm will make the project go a long way and make it last for a long time.
The only thing left to do now is to make sure that students will participate in the completion of the NCHA so that they can help students understand the risks and live better lives.
“I think this project is going to go very far,” said Neilson.