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80 powerful presentations at the EMSB

Thursday, 28 February, 2019 - 10:28 am

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Do you remember getting educated about drug addiction?

Those long, boring presentations where someone droned on and on about how your life can get screwed up if you take drugs? The ones that you all laughed off?

At the English Montreal School Board, those monotonous lectures are now relics thanks to their innovative partnership with Chabad Lifeline.

Leading with vulnerability

According to a recent study by Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap, 1 out of every 10 students will grow up to be an addict. The addiction may be alcohol, drugs, pornography, internet, gambling, sex or gaming and it usually develops during the teen years.  

Chabad Lifeline's school presentations are unique. Over the past 30 years they have been developed to encourage student participation in creating a safe space for open communication. The goal of these presentations is to provide information and resources to those in need.

Each school presentation opens with an interactive dialogue about a subject that is often taboo. Chabad Lifeline's Addictions Counsellors openly address questions about addiction and detail the harm addiction causes biologically and socially.

School staff are then asked to leave the room and a guest speaker shares their experiences with both addiction and recovery, what led them to go from experimentation to self sabotage. Their honest depictions of pain and loneliness often lead youth to connect and share their fears and experiences. 

The presentation and dialogue is open, without speeches or video. The speakers create an environment where authenticity is celebrated and usually leads to frank discussion.

At the end of each school presentation a questionnaire is handed out. Students can privately share feedback, disclose if they know someone affected by addiction, or provide their contact information if they'd like to speak confidentially with a Chabad Lifeline Addictions Counsellor.

Saving lives

Chabad Lifeline's collaboration with the EMSB has literally saved lives and helped families learn to deal with the disease of addiction. Here are some samples of children who were helped thanks to these presentations (names and certain identifying information have been changed).

Mark's* father was a raging alcoholic. His mother was unable to cope with the chaos and Mark took charge of the home, helping his siblings get to school, cooking dinner, and paying the bills. Filling in a questionnaire at one of our school presentations led to Mark, his siblings, and mother receiving the help they needed to learn how to manage their lives.

Chantal* asked to meet an Addictions Counsellor in private following one of our presentations. She lived with her Mom, a drug addict. Not only were we able to guide Chantal but her mother recently began a treatment plan for her addiction.

Nick* opened up at one of our school presentations, courageously admitting that he was worried about his addictive tendencies. He later disclosed that he had never thought he was on the path to becoming an addict until he heard the young recovering addict speak and recognized the similarities in their experiences, particularly their feelings.

"I would once again like to thank you for our partnership this school year," said Marco Gagliardi, Principal of Rosemount High School. "I believe that our partnership is truly a benefit to our students. Your counsellor has been working closely with students throughout the year. She has been consulting with them on a variety of addiction problems to giving workshops on dealing with anxiety as well as anything else that comes up in between. Although some of these skills are taught through the school curriculum it is a valuable experience for our students and staff to work with a professional and hear it from a different voice both during and outside of class."

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To find out more about our school presentations, click here

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