Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth: Recap of All-Partner Forum in Toronto

On March 23rd, 2015, Parent Action on Drugs (PAD) was fortunate enough to have all our provincial partners for the Health Canada project come to Toronto for a face-to-face all-partner forum. The day was full of collaboration, networking, and information sharing about how to make Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth (SFPY) deliveries as successful as possible in the coming years.

Diane Buhler, Executive Director at PAD opened up the day by discussing the objectives of the Health Canada project, and what has been achieved so far. After discussing what the goals for the all-partner forum were, Diane passed the floor to Suzanne Witt-Foley (Consultant at Making Connections 4 Health), who was the facilitator for the day.

After leading an activity to help partners get acquainted with one another, Suzanne facilitated a discussion about where each partner is at in terms of delivering an SFPY cycle. Following this, the Peterborough Drug Strategy shared a presentation about their experience running SFPY in Fall 2014, and how they achieved such strong successes with 11 families.

Next, Suzanne facilitated a community mapping exercise, where all participants were asked to identify the assets in their community, the need for SFPY, the service gaps SFPY can fill, how SFPY can benefit the organization, and what individuals, businesses, funding sources, and organizations may help in delivering a successful SFPY cycle.

After a fun activity from the SFPY curriculum, the group participated in an interactive activity about how to engage youth successfully in SFPY. Participants were given post-its and were asked to write down what works, successes, challenges, and barriers to running SFPY. The post-its were then posted on the wall, which had a continuum showing different stages of the SFPY cycle. See the attached for a photo of the continuum and a list of the ideas and lessons learned that were raised during this session.

After a nutritious lunch, the group came back to a presentation by Suzanne about how 14 years of running the Strengthening Families Program has transformed the community in Muskoka. Suzanne touched on funding sources, how stigma associated with the program has almost disappeared over the years, and tips on how to make families feel as comfortable as possible when they are participating in the program.

The group then had a discussion about where each partner is at in terms of capacity building, and how the project has contributed to an increased sense of community. The day closed off with a discussion and sharing of each partner’s community map (see some examples attached), and a roundtable discussion about what each participant gained from the day.

It was a wonderful day full of rich discussion, knowledge exchange, networking and capacity building. We are very thankful to our partners for making the trip to Toronto for the all-partner forum, and also to Health Canada for providing the funding to make this all-partner forum possible.

For more information about SFPY, see www.sfpy-pad.org.

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