MONTREAL, JANUARY 20, 2010 – The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) Student Services Department will host the FRIENDS for Life launch and training session at General Vanier Elementary School (4555 Buies) in St. Léonard on Thursday, Jan. 21. Programming will begin at 9 a.m., with a press conference scheduled for Noon.
FRIENDS for Life is a program that builds resilience and self esteem in children by teaching cognitive, behavioral, and emotional skills in a simple, well-designed and structured format. Resilient children have been found to cope better with feelings of fear, worry, depression and anxiety. They are better equipped to deal with emotional distress and less likely to develop psychological disorders. A recent Quebec study conducted with 1,759 mothers over six years found that 15 percent of pre-schoolers have atypically high levels of depression and anxiety. The FRIENDS program is one response to this wake-up call.
Based on more than 10 years of comprehensive research and evaluation, FRIENDS for Life was developed in Australia by Dr. Paula Barrett, a clinical child psychologist. It is currently being used in 11 countries worldwide. Hundreds of schools across Canada now use the program, but this is the first time the program is being introduced in Montreal. As a result of a collaboration between the EMSB, AMI-Québec and REISA (The East Island Network for English Language Services), the program is being piloted at two elementary schools - General Vanier and Gerald McShane in Montreal North.
AMI-Québec is a grassroots organization committed to promoting understanding of mental illness and dispelling the stigma still surrounding it. The East Island Network for English Language Services consists of community and public partners working to develop and promote access to English Language health and social services in the East End of Montreal. This project was made possible through the financial support of Health Canada and the CHSSN.