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Umbrella Project

The Umbrella Project has created a successful model that embodies best practices to provide substance use prevention, awareness, and early intervention to emerging adults within a postsecondary setting.

Umbrella Project Background

The AC Umbrella Project is a College-wide project that provides training, workshops, education, awareness, and support services for students who use substances, and those who care for them.

Algonquin College undertook a two-year project funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development’ Mental Health Innovation Fund with the goal of developing and building a sustainable harm reduction framework for post-secondary institutions. The AC Umbrella Project is focused on:

  • Increasing awareness and education of how to reduce harms associated with substance use;
  • Supporting students who are struggling with substance use to succeed in their college careers;
  • Continuing Algonquin College’s commitment to a healthy campus community.

Substance use among Ontario college students has been linked to increased incidences of assault, sexual violence, suicide, and violations of student conduct policies (NCHA, 2016). This project began as a collaboration between Algonquin College Student Support Services, Algonquin College Partnerships and Applied Research, community partners Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, and Tungasuvvingat Inuit Community Centre.

Approach

The AC Umbrella Project is a College-wide campaign focused on awareness, risk, and harm reduction strategies. It is shifting the substance use culture on campus through:

  • Training and consultation with the College’s employees;
  • A mechanism for providing the students with access to existing community-based substance abuse treatment resources;
  • Digital program delivery strategies;
  • An effective and supportive linkage between students transitioning from community substance support programs and the College.

Goals

  1. Decrease barriers to academic success, and increase student retention and student graduations.
  2. Increase skills, abilities, and confidence of College faculty and staff to address and support students who are struggling with substance use issues.
  3. Enhance students’ self-efficacy to self-assess and seek support.
  4. Increase College resources to assist students in reducing harms related to substance use.

The Umbrella Project and this Harm Reduction Framework were made possible through the support and hard work of harm reduction champions at Algonquin College and in the larger community. To read the full list of acknowledgements and special thanks, please open the document below.

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Credits

This hub was created by Student Support Services at Algonquin College opens in new window in Ottawa, Ontario.

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