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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 7, May/June 2006

Yours for the asking

FRIENDS for life

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), in co-operation with the Ministry of Education, is moving into the third year of implementation of the Friends program.

The program, developed in Australia, is a school-based early intervention and prevention program demonstrated to be effective in reducing the risk of anxiety disorders and building psychological resilience in children. Anxiety has the highest prevalence of all mental disorders in children and youth, affecting nearly 7% or approximately 65,000 children in BC. Schools represent ideal settings in which to detect early symptoms of anxiety and to equip children with coping skills and other tools to cope with and manage problem situations. The program also responds to many of the provincially prescribed learning outcomes for the Personal Planning curriculum in elementary schools.

Friends was introduced in British Columbia as a pilot project in seven school districts in the spring of 2004. Based on the success of this pilot, the program was launched in August 2004. Over 45 school districts throughout BC have been involved and over 47,000 children have been exposed to the program.

Teachers guide Grade 4 & 5 students through a 10-week series of class-based activities designed to teach them how to deal with worrying situations by being prepared, rewarding themselves, and seeking support. After each session, students take home an activity to complete before the next session, and at the end of the program they are able to keep their special "Friends" workbooks for future reference.

The program has been described by teachers as a very rewarding and fun teaching experience that allows them to share many positive moments with their students. Parents also have an opportunity to help their children and learn more about what they are experiencing in the program by attending a short series of parent evenings which may be arranged by the school or the local PAC.

Prior to beginning a Friends program, teachers are required to attend a one-day training workshop. MCFD provides a certified instructor for each workshop, in addition to the manuals and children’s workbooks for delivery of the program in schools. School districts provide the training venue and release time for school personnel to attend the training workshop. This initiative represents an important partnership between the mental health and education sectors.

To register for the program for the 2006—07 academic year, or to obtain more information, e-mail: mcf.cymhfriends@gov.bc.ca.



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The Lower Mainland Field Trip Guide contains a listing of over 250 individual programs and offered by 103 organizations. It contains all the information a teacher needs to know when planning a field trip. We list everything from directions to policies for each of the venues. You will know who to contact to book a program and what the cost will be. It is the most comprehensive field-trip guide in the world.

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