Notable Canadian Prevention Programs

Counselling services and community development

Phoenix Prevention Program

Phoenix is a non-profit, community based organization located in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  They have 10 programs and services for at-risk and homeless youth, ages 12-24. The primary innovative feature at Phoenix is their continuum of care which includes: prevention, crisis assistance, emergency shelter, long-term supportive and structured living, independent living, personal skill development, education, health services and after care services. Phoenix has been recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for its work with priority youth.

Based on the stories of youth who have accessed Phoenix services over the years, and youth resilience research, Phoenix developed a Prevention Program to help address the root causes of crime and homelessness. The Phoenix Prevention Program (PPP) is comprised of a team of clinical social workers and community developers. Using models of practice that have a social justice orientation at their core, the Phoenix Prevention Program promotes a sense of confidence, competence, and connectedness in youth and their families, factors which are well known to contribute to positive development. Emphasis is placed on facilitating the healthy engagement and connection of youth with significant adults at home, at school, and in the community.

The Phoenix Prevention Program has two linked components:

Clinical Therapy

The Clinical Therapy team provides free intake services and individual/family therapy for junior and senior high school students ages 12 to 19, and for youth who access Phoenix services up to the age of 24. With a focus on early intervention, we work with youth and families who are struggling with a range of concerns including family conflict, peer conflict/bullying, discrimination, grief and loss, coping with emotions, histories of abuse, and poverty.

The Clinical Therapists also assist youth and families in strengthening their connections to school and community through collaboration and advocacy, as well as through direct links with the Community Development team’s programming in selected schools and communities.

Community Development

Using a holistic model, the Community Development Team works with selected schools and communities to strengthen resilience in youth who might be considered “at-risk,” given the multiple environmental challenges they face.  To achieve this, we develop meaningful relationships with selected schools and their surrounding communities. We explore their strengths and challenges, identify potential partners, and then offer programming tailored to address specific needs identified by youth, their families, schools, and communities.

School-based programming includes: themed groups for students, youth-led projects that focus on improving school climate, after-school programming/tutoring, workshops, themed youth conferences, and direct referrals to our Clinical Therapy Team. Community-based programming includes after-school and summer programming with youth and their parents (recreational, artistic, and service-oriented activities; community beautification projects; tutoring), school-community connecting initiatives, and direct referrals to our Clinical Therapy Team.

The Prevention team is connected to all the other programs at Phoenix, providing counselling to youth and their families as well as clinical consultation and workshops to Phoenix staff. The Prevention team also offers an eight-session Narrative Learning Series.  This series introduces all new Phoenix staff to an approach that offers practical suggestions for working effectively and respectfully with youth, and has a strong social justice orientation at its core.  This series was developed by the Clinical team at Prevention in partnership with Michael Unger, Social Work Professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax and leader of the International Resilience Project.

School-Based Programming

Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY)- Winnipeg, MB.

The “Life on the Streets” workshop, offered upon request, is a no-nonsense presentation that highlights the real dangers associated with street-life and is delivered by a youth from RAY’s Youth Speakers Bureau.

Dans La Rue – Montreal, QC

The program offered is a highly interactive session featuring a video: “Cul de Sac”, a comic book: “Cinderella’s Silence”, and lively discussions. This fast paced format helps open kids eyes to the reality of life on the streets and presents alternatives to running away. The video and teaching manual are available upon request on their website.

Aboriginal Programming

Abbey House – St. Catharines, ON

To provide a safe opportunity for transitional living for Aboriginal women aged 16+ , with or without children, who are experiencing crisis in their lives.

Abbey House is a 5 bedroom secured residence in a quiet residential area. Two of the bedrooms join and are used as a family suite complete with access to a private bathroom. It has a large eat in kitchen, a beautiful sitting room, a large outside deck secured back yard for children to play, laundry and internet facilities. Abbey House can have up to 10 individuals living here at one time sharing accommodations and living with mutual respect.

At Abbey House they believe in the importance of relationships and will work with the young women who access their program towards family reunification when possible.


To create a nurturing, stable, and culturally based living environment that encourages and empowers Individuals to make positive lasting change. Abbey House will support women and their children to overcome crisis and homelessness by assisting them to achieve emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical well being.

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