Envision Counselling and Support Centre is launching a new three-year project to increase education and awareness of sexual violence. The new Rural Outreach Awareness Measures (ROAM) project will allow Envision to reach rural and remote communities with educational presentations.
“We found that there were gaps in knowledge in our communities surrounding sexual violence, exploitation and human trafficking,” says Christa Daku, executive director of Envision Counselling and Support Centre. “We learned during our needs assessment earlier this year that more awareness of sexual violence needs to be created throughout the southeast.”
Envision has been addressing these gaps for several years already, providing presentations in the schools. However, with a lack of substantial funding, they had to work against some limitations. Mainly, they couldn’t reach most of the rural communities.
“We’ve been able to offer (presentations) really just in schools though small grants here and there, which we are very, very grateful for. But this is a significant difference. We are able to reach more rural communities,” said Daku.
In July Envision received the first initial funding to do a three-year-long project, aimed at researching the impact of education in reducing and preventing sexual violence. The additional funding came in September.
“We received funding to do a measurement project, so we will be evaluating the impact that we are having on the students in the communities,” said Daku.
The preparation work for the project is almost done, and now they are just waiting for things to get organized and a work plan developed before they start promoting the program.
For the project, the organization hired a full-time rural outreach educator, who will also receive help from Envision’s in-house specialist. Both professionals will be delivering presentations throughout southeast Saskatchewan.
While several educational pieces are ready, Envision also plans to develop some more presentations.
“We’ve included communities, service groups, all of those types of individuals that are interested in the educational components of presentations. We are able to come out there as well,” said Daku.
Envision Counselling’s outreach program currently has prevention presentations available to communities and Grade 7-10 classrooms that focus on topics like healthy relationships, sexual consent, gender stereotypes and gender-based violence. For the adults, the presentations are more about providing education on what to look for and how to support their youth at home. Envision is also flexible when it comes to presentations for service groups.
Daku said that as long as the issue fits into the mandate around relationships, they can adapt to meet the needs of service groups request.
“We are excited to be able to offer the ROAM project to more schools, more communities and to expand our partnerships with local reserves,” says Daku.
“We’ve never had a sustainable outreach presentation program. And now we have a three-year project, where we are able to evaluate the outcomes and the impacts on the education that this provides in the school system and the students that we see.”
This commitment to increasing awareness is a joint project from Justice Canada and the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan to fund a position focusing on rural outreach and First Nation engagement. This funding will allow the rural outreach educator to travel throughout Envision Counselling’s 28,700 square kilometre service area and build relationships with schools, reserves and rural communities.
“The long-term goal for us as an agency is to be able to get some data and be able to submit it to funders so that hopefully one day they will have some data to support this prevention work,” said Daku.
The presenters will still be working with schools, but now Envision has the ability to be flexible about the group sizes, participants and presentation settings.
“We are very adaptable based on the needs, and they just need to call the outreach co-ordinator to inquire,” said Daku.
Those interested in booking a presentation may call the Estevan office at 306-637-4004 or the Weyburn office at 306-842-8821.