Monthly Archives: September 2018

Brief intervention on substance use with girls and women: 50 ideas for dialogue, skill building, and empowerment

Brief interventions are collaborative conversations between an individual and a health care or social service provider about a health issue. this resource focuses on brief intervention on substance use with girls and women in the preconception and perinatal period.  Click here to download resource.

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How Children and Adults Can Build Core Capabilities for Life

Every day we take on the ordinary, sometimes challenging, tasks of work, school, parenting, relationships, and just managing our busy lives. How do we navigate these tasks successfully? And what can send us off course? Science offers an explanation. This 5-minute video explores the development and use of core capabilities — known as executive function and self-regulation skills — from early childhood into adolescence and adulthood.

Building on the Center’s 2013 video presenting the theory that building adult capabilities is necessary to improve child outcomes, this new video describes what these skills are, why they are important, how they develop, and how they are affected by stress. It combines an allegorical “scribe” storytelling technique with new animation of brain development to show how positive conditions support the development of these skills, and how adverse conditions make it harder to build and use them.

Grounding Activities and Trauma-Informed Practice

Maxine Harris says that in trauma-informed services “trust and safety, rather than being assumed from the beginning, must be earned and demonstrated over time.” Learning grounding activities can be important for staff and clients in trauma-informed organizations and systems.

For clients, they can help to manage a trauma response, increase feelings of safety, and support the development of the skills needed to begin healing. Grounding activities can increase awareness of trauma responses, help build therapeutic relationships, be included in safety plans and offer validation. For staff, grounding activities can help you remain present when working with clients and be included in your own self-care practices.


Curriculum Guide: ‘Take Care’, a toolkit that focuses on girls’ health and wellness

With the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the collaboration with the BC Centre for Excellence for Women’s Health, Girls Action developed “Take Care” an unprecendented toolkit for girls’ programmers that focuses on girls’ health and wellness. Take Care includes resources, workshop guides and helpful information for anyone who works with girls and young women.

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Click here to download resource!

About Girls Action Foundation

Girls Action Foundation works to improve girls’ and young women’s access to resources and opportunities. Initiatives create opportunities for them to discover their power and gain the confidence to take action in their communities. At Girls Action we are committed to building a movement of active, engaged individuals and organizations across Canada. Through this movement, we envision a new generation committed to creating a more just society for all.

Girls Action was founded in 1995 as a grassroots organization that delivered programming to girls and young women in the Ottawa area. As a result of growing needs and frequent requests for more programming, Girls Action’s reach has expanded. Local girls’ programs continue to be delivered in Montreal, in addition, we have a national young women’s leadership program and we convene a national network of more than 300 organizations that offer girls’ programs in communities across Canada.


• Build girls’ and young women’s self-awareness and self-esteem

• Increase girls’ and young women’s awareness of and ability address issues of violence

• Foster the development of girls’ and young women’s critical thinking and communications skills

• Improve girls’ and young women’s awareness of and ability to access resources and mentorship in their communities

• Increase girls’ and young women’s experience and skills in community action and leadership

Do moms need too much wine? Women’s drinking habits spark concern

September is National Recovery Month. Women are at greater risk for some of the negative effects of alcohol, but their drinking is catching up to men.
by A. Pawlowski /  / Source: TODAY
Woman with Alcohol

As Dana Bowman’s family grew, so did her appetite for alcohol.

Bowman, who lives in Lindsborg, Kansas, didn’t drink much in high school or college, and occasionally enjoyed alcohol in her 20s. But she began drinking more when she got married and her “affair with alcohol” hit its lowest point when she had children, she wrote in her blog.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, especially as a parent,” Bowman, 47, who is the author of “Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery,” told TODAY.


Anxious that she didn’t know how to raise kids “perfectly,” Bowman turned to alcohol, hiding bottles in her closet, her boots and in the laundry room because “that’s safe — my husband never went in there,” she said.

White wine was her drink of choice — the perfect camouflage since it would seem impossible to the outside world that a mom of two could become an alcoholic if she was just drinking a lovely vintage, Bowman noted. She was relieved to find many parenting groups on Facebook considered wine to be “medicinal” — a perfectly normal part of a harried mom’s routine.

At her worst, Bowman drank about a bottle of wine a day, sometimes imbibing additional drinks, perhaps a cocktail or two, she recalled.


Experiences like Bowman’s have experts concerned.

“Alcohol use is increasing among women in the United States at a time when it’s decreasing among men,” said Aaron White, a biological psychologist and senior scientific adviser to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “There has been a real shift.”

Click here to read the full article.

Lessons from Iceland: How one country turned around a teen drinking crisis


When Skúli ​Helgeson turned 13 years old, he celebrated the same way all of his friends did at that age: he got drunk.

The city councillor in Reykjavik, Iceland, now in his 50s, says it was a cultural rite of passage.

“When I was growing up, we had a dramatically different culture regarding teen drinking habits, smoking … When you were 13, you were supposed to start drinking and pretty much everyone did that. It was just part of culture. There was something wrong with you if you didn’t,” said Helgeson, chair of the city’s Education and Youth Committee.

At that time and into the 1990s, the teen drinking rate in Iceland was around 42 per cent. It was the highest rate in Europe.

Now, when surveyed by the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA), only five per cent of teens in Iceland reported getting drunk in the past 30 days. The ICSRA is a non-profit institute at Reykjavik University.

Those regular surveys are a key element of a program called Planet Youth, which was started in 1999, to address what was seen as a crisis in teen drinking.

That crisis, Helgeson said, was evident to anyone who ventured to the city’s centre on a weekend.

“It was not a safe place to be,” Helgeson told White Coat, Black Art host Dr. Brian Goldman when he visited Reykjavik this summer.

At 3 a.m, when the bars and discos closed, up to 15,000 heavily intoxicated Icelanders— many of them underage teens— poured into the downtown, doing damage to property and causing general mayhem.

The mayor at the time decided something had to be done, Helgeson said. She brought together police, academia, parents and other stakeholders.

Soon after the program that would become Planet Youth was born.

Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir was a young researcher at the time when the program started.

Sigfúsdóttir, now director of the ICSRA, told Dr. Goldman about the keys to the program’s success, one of which is a focus on gathering evidence and publishing it to back up their results.

Another key element involves parents spending much more time with their kids, something Sigfúsdóttir says wasn’t an easy sell in Iceland, where adults prefer work over play.

“It was not very popular because we wanted to believe in something we call ‘quality time’ — spending just a little time with them over a weekend, [or] going to a museum. We love work, so we needed to learn that spending time with our kids is a priority,” she said.

The local government also provided the equivalent of about $650 Canadian per child, per year, to parents for after-school programs such as sports or music.

Helgeson says that policy has been transformative.

“Teenagers now know they have better options than to use alcohol and tobacco,” he said adding.

Soccer fields like this one are used heavily, thanks to subsidies for after school activities provided by the Icelandic government. (Brian Goldman )


Parents also stepped up, taking part in “parental walks” in their neighbourhoods, to look out for kids who might be at risk, and speaking to those who are out past the the suggested curfew set by the country’s Child Protection Act. During the school year, teens between 13 and 16 should be inside by 10 p.m. For those under 12, it’s 8 p.m.

Sigfúsdóttir says evidence shows that even if all parents don’t buy in to taking part, there’s a “neighbourhood effect” that benefits the majority of kids.

Parents are also encouraged to monitor who their kids’ friends are, meet the parents of those friends, and keep tabs on where they are hanging out. Sigfúsdóttir called it a “protective factor” to prevent drug use.

The success of the program has attracted interest from many other countries, including Ireland, Chile, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Latvia. This October, Planet Youth experts are visiting Manitoba.

Officials in Lanark County in Ontario say they’re also looking to Planet Youth to help curb teen drinking, and to prepare for the legalisation of cannabis in Canada this October. White Coat, Black Art will have more on what’s happening in that region in an upcoming episode.

Sigfúsdóttir questioned Canada’s move to legalise cannabis, suggesting the country is “normalising” the drug for kids, even though they legally aren’t allowed to partake.

“We’re responsible for getting them through this age period without using any drugs. And kids who do not start during those first 18 or 20 years are much less likely to have this as a problem later in life, said.

“Why not give them a chance to lead happy, healthy lives? Why would they need to use substances? Why do you need to have it as an option?” she said.

Retrieved from

Best Start Resource: Learning to Play and Playing to Learn – What Families Can Do – Booklet

Learning to Play and Playing to Learn is a parent resource and guide for all who care for children and support play-based learning at home, in child care and preschool settings and kindergarten. Particular attention is given to attachment, self-regulation and play. It is based on the research of what, how, and when your child learns. This booklet is filled with:

  • Up-to-date information
  • Helpful tips
  • Checklists
  • Links to other resources

These tools help to support a child’s individual growth and development.

Who is this booklet for?

This booklet is for everyone who cares for children: Parent, Caregivers, Childcare providers, Healthcare providers, Family members, Friends…

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Click here to download the booklet!

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