DC researcher leads co-design of youth-led housing hub model for youth living on their own

Old enough to live on their own but too young to receive social assistance directly, Ontario’s Trusteed Youth (TY) face challenges no child should.

Through a two-year research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) through the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF), Durham College (DC) researcher Lorraine Closs found that TY often face precarious housing situations and homelessness, food insecurity, mental and physical health concerns and more. These issues are largely due to the challenge of navigating a complex and overburdened social services system and lack of safe and affordable housing options.

TY represent a unique and particularly vulnerable population, relying on a community agency to act as their “trustee” so they can collect Ontario Works assistance. They live alone without the opportunity to approach independence in a gradual and supported manner, and lack suitable role models and guidance that would generally be provided in a family setting.

Established in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Durham, Durham District School Board, Durham Mental Health Services, Boys and Girls Club of Durham, and the John Howard Society of Canada, the DC applied research project, which concluded in December, has resulted in the development of a ground-breaking alternative housing hub model co-designed for youth, by youth. It has also provided valuable insight into how the system can best meet the needs of TY while informing future policy recommendations for supporting youth living on their own.

“By directly involving trusteed youth in the development of this housing hub, we were able to support their needs, while also helping them improve their knowledge of the service system and increase their sense of personal competency and possibilities for the future,” said Closs, who also teaches at the college in the Social Service Worker program. “It’s our hope that the insights and recommendations developed as a result of this valuable research will help inform service design and delivery here at home and across the country, and that this project will become a catalyst in ensuring brighter futures for our trusteed youth.”

During the project, Closs gathered survey feedback from 43 current TY, as well as 30 service providers from 22 agencies across the region to better understand the obstacles facing both groups. With this data, she hosted three in-person co-design sessions and a virtual consensus building session with community service providers and TY. At these sessions, they co-designed the youth housing hub model and strategized policies that would improve the coordination and collaboration of services for youth living on their own.

“The Region of Durham is committed to ending chronic homelessness in our community,” said commissioner of social services, Stella Danos-Papaconstantinou. “We know that the needs of youth who experience precarious housing and homelessness are different than those of adults. This research amplifies the voices of vulnerable Durham youth and the service providers working with them to co-design a transitional, supportive housing model.  We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Durham College on this applied research and bring data, rigor and the voice of youth to proposed housing solutions inspired by their experiences.”

Other recommendations that came out of the research include:

  • Bundling services for youth by creating school hubs.
  • Creating drop-in style supports to by-pass complex referral and waitlist processes.
  • Intervention services for landlord disputes and funding incentives for landlords who rent to youth.
  • A designated case worker assigned to TY to help navigate the service system.
  • Flexibility around communication options for youth to access service supports.
  • Access to free transportation for youth.
  • Affordable, safe transitional housing options to prevent the onset of chronic homelessness.
  • Improved process for changing schools without parental consent.
  • Life skills guidance for the seamless transition from adolescence to adulthood.
  • Inclusion of youth in the development of youth services.

The full research report, including key findings, implications and recommendations are available to view online, in addition to a short film that was produced to disseminate the findings of the research.

This project was proudly supported by DC’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE). ORSIE provides support to social innovation projects through access to funding opportunities, faculty expertise, state-of-the-art research facilities, and student learning experiences. In partnership with industry and community agencies, applied research projects are carried out by DC faculty experts and students and administered by ORSIE. To connect with ORSIE, please reach out online.

A second DC faculty member receives a Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence

Durham College (DC) is pleased to share that Chris Daniel, a professor in Durham College’s (DC) Mechanical Engineering Technology program and faculty advisor with DC’s FastStart entrepreneurship team, has received a Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence for his dedication to the local community, his students and the broader post-secondary sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nominated by Michelle Hutt, executive dean of the School of Science & Engineering Technology, Chris demonstrated his Ontario spirit when the pandemic struck by spearheading a team of 65 college students, employees, alumni and community members, who used 3D printers to create the frames for PPE face shields used by healthcare workers on the frontlines battling COVID-19.

At the height of production, 83 rapid prototyping machines were running across Durham Region and a GoFundMe page was established, which ultimately raised $15,918.32.   In total, Chris’ 3D printing team produced 6,350 face shield headbands, as well as 32,700 ear savers. In addition, a $441.66 donation was made to the Lakeridge Health Foundation.

Chris joins colleague Edward Logan, who also received a Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence. The college is very proud of them both for helping to bring DC’s new mission – together, we’re leading the way – to life.

Developed to honour the work being done by professors and instructors at Ontario’s publicly-assisted, Indigenous and private post-secondary institutions during COVID-19, the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Awards of Excellence celebrate the incredible work of professors and instructors on campus, in the community and beyond.

DC professor Edward Logan receives Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence

Durham College (DC) is pleased to share that Edward Logan, a professor in DC’s post-secondary and apprenticeship plumbing programs, has received a Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence for his dedication to the local community, his students and the broader post-secondary sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nominated by Dr. Rebecca Milburn, executive dean of the School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship and Renewable Technology, Edward demonstrated his Ontario spirit when the pandemic forced DC to close its campuses, by organizing two national virtual Community of Practice (CoP) events for plumbers and skilled trades faculty.

Created with the goals of bringing educators together, making the online experience better for students, forging new relationships, and sharing best practices for online delivery, each CoP saw professors from across Canada and the United States come together to share ideas, best practices, and further examine their roles as educators. Given the initial success of the sessions, there are plans to continue in the future.

DC is incredibly proud of Edward and wishes to extend its congratulations on his achievement. His commitment to his trade, his students and post-secondary education are shining examples of the college’s new mission in action – together we’re leading the way.

Developed to honour the work being done by professors and instructors at Ontario’s publicly-assisted, Indigenous and private post-secondary institutions during COVID-19, the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Awards of Excellence celebrate the incredible work of professors and instructors on campus, in the community and beyond.

DC employees show solidarity during Scholar Strike for those who have experienced anti-Black and systemic racism

On September 9 and 10, academics across North America took part in a two-day Scholar Strike to stand in solidarity with anti-Black racism and police violence protesters in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.

As part of this collective action event, a group of Durham College (DC) employees contributed their voices to a short video to demonstrate their support for their students, colleagues and all others who have experienced anti-Black and systemic racism.

Produced by Crystal Garvey, a professor in the Nursing – Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the video features statements of solidarity from faculty members across the college as they share their experiences and advocacy while raising their voices in the call to end racial injustice.

Watch the video below.

DC is proud of its employees and students, and supports the dismantling of systemic barriers faced by the underrepresented Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) community. Earlier this summer, DC President Don Lovisa signed the BlackNorth Initiative’s CEO pledge, joining more than 200 leaders from across Canada who have publicly committed their organizations to taking action to realize specific goals and targets designed to dismantle anti-Black systemic racism and create opportunities for the BIPOC community.

REDress Campus Campaign urges move from awareness to action

Awareness has been achieved; now it is time for action.

This was the dominant message of the REDress Campus Campaign at Durham College (DC), a week-long series of events focused on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited People (MMIWG2S).

Led by the First Peoples Indigenous Centre (FPIC) at DC and Indigenous Education and Cultural Services at Ontario Tech University, the campaign also brought together community partners including the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, Carea Community Health Centre, The Nourish and Develop Foundation and DC Students Inc.

The week began with the reveal of an installation of red dresses across the college and university’s shared Oshawa campus, each dress symbolizing someone taken by the MMIWG2S crisis. In addition to the dress installation, events were held each day from February 10 to 14, culminating with a memorial march and closing ceremony feast on Friday afternoon.

The campaign was inspired by Métis artist Jaime Black’s The REDress Project, an aesthetic response to the MMIWG2S crisis, which is now a permanent exhibit in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Much like Black’s project, the red dresses installed across DC and Ontario Tech’s shared campus, Ontario Tech’s downtown Oshawa location, and DC’s Whitby campus and Pickering Learning Site, served as a visual reminder of the staggering number of MMIWG2S.

The REDress Campus Campaign included an opening ceremony featuring guest speaker Suzanne Smoke of Alderville First Nation, who is a Women’s Traditional Dancer, speaker, and facilitator, as well as an Anishinaabe Water Walker. On February 11, Kim Wheatley, an Anishinaabe Ojibway Grandmother from Shawanaga First Nation spoke about the connection between violence against women and violence against the land that is causing climate change.

On February 12, the First Peoples Indigenous Centre hosted an arts open house where participants could make a tile necklace to both commemorate MMIWG2S and celebrate the strength and future of Indigenous women, and take part in a traditional beading workshop.

One of the many highlights of the week included the special Global Class conversation held on February 13 between Jaime Black and Cree scholar Karyn Recollet. An associate professor with the University of Toronto’s Women & Gender Studies Institute, Professor Recollet brought the original REDress Project to her university’s downtown campus in 2017. The conversation between the women focused on their work in connection with the crisis of MMIWG2S. A group from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation also provided a big drum performance to open and close the event.

DC becomes first college in Canada to deliver course through Walls to Bridges program

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that it is the first college in Canada to provide college courses in prison through the Walls to Bridges (W2B) education program, which facilitates for-credit post-secondary courses taught within correctional settings. Each W2B classroom sees equal numbers of incarcerated and non-incarcerated students learning together as peers.

This semester, DC Professor Dale Burt is teaching Resiliency in Society: the Bridges and Barriers at a federal correctional institution in Ontario. Each week she travels to the prison with eight DC students who are taking the class alongside eight currently incarcerated students.

“The Walls to Bridges classroom offers a unique transformational learning experience that encourages diverse learners to build bridges with one another, recognizing that there are many ways of ‘knowing,’ including from each other and our experiences,” said Professor Burt. “I structure and lead the lessons and facilitate the learning activities, but we are really all students and teachers in the W2B classroom. Together we are able to break down barriers as we examine – and unlearn – assumptions and ‘othering.’”

The participating DC students are enrolled in either Mediation – Alternative Dispute Resolution or Victimology, two of the college’s post-graduate certificate programs. Each student had to apply and be interviewed in order to be accepted into the W2B course.

“Taking part in the Walls to Bridges program is important to Durham College for many reasons,” said Stephanie Ball, executive dean of the college’s schools of Justice & Emergency Services and Interdisciplinary Studies. “The environment and dynamics of the class make for a more impactful learning experience for all students while also providing access to post-secondary education for learners who may not have had access to it otherwise.”

The final class will be held at the prison on Wednesday, April 15. Students will present a collaborative project on what they have learned through the course followed by a graduation ceremony.

DC student, alumnus and faculty member travel to Rome, Italy for health care technology conference

Durham College’s (DC) health care programs were well-represented on the world stage last month when a DC student, alumnus and faculty member traveled to Rome, Italy to speak at the Third International Clinical Engineering and Health Technology Management Congress, organized by the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering.

From the Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management (BHCTM) program, second-year student Jessica Metcalfe presented her poster “Student point-of-view: healthcare technology management, a layman’s definition” in the Education, Certification, and Training session, while faculty member Abdelbaset Khalaf spoke in two sessions on the development of health care management technology, one of which was featured as a conference highlight. In both sessions he spoke about the BHCTM program, including the success of its launch and future plans, which was well-received by the audience.

Oem Dave, a Biomedical Engineering Technology grad, also showcased his research from the electrocardiogram capstone project through a poster presentation at the conference.

The conference was attended by 800 delegates from 62 countries and of the eight speakers from Canada and three were from DC. This is the first time that the BHCTM program has been represented at a global event, and Abdelbaset is already preparing students and faculty to take part in the fourth congress in the U.S. in 2021.

DC students and faculty travel to Guatemala to support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

On Friday, October 4, students and faculty from Durham College’s (DC) School of Media, Art & Design will travel for ten days to rural regions of Guatemala as part of a new digital storytelling program, called Youth United 2030, contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The program is being delivered in partnership with a Canadian charity, Students Offering Support (SOS), which has facilitated youth service-learning programs throughout Latin America since 2008.

With the support of faculty member, and former CBC journalist, Danielle Harder, students from DC’s Video Production and Journalism – Mass Media/Journalism programs are part of a faculty-led classroom abroad, where they will utilize the skills learned in their programs to deliver interactive training workshops for 35 low-income Guatemalan youth to learn about using digital storytelling techniques as a tool for change. In addition to delivering workshops participants have fundraised to donate iPads so youth participants from the host communities will have access to technology to put the training into action. A second cohort of DC students will be travelling to Guatemala in February, alongside Harder, to deliver follow-up training opportunities, and continue producing new media content, as part of the ongoing program.

Upon the students’ return from Guatemala, the students will turn their interviews and video footage into short documentaries offering cross-cultural perspectives on the SDGs.

“Youth United is all about reciprocal exchange. It empowers Durham College students to build their cross-cultural competencies alongside their technical skills, while experiencing how the knowledge they’re learning through their studies can make a difference on issues that matter,” said Harder. She and her students recently won an international PIEoneer Award for real-life learning for a film project in 2018 that engaged them in global issues through documenting a development program led by Canadian colleges in Kenya.

DC and SOS began working together after a connection was forged at a National conference co-organized by Academica and Academics Without Borders, called “Reaching Across Borders, Building a Better World”.  Lisa Shepard, DC’s dean of International Education, had this to say about the new program: “We believe in global competency as a critical 21st-century learning skill. Durham College supports education abroad initiatives such as faculty-led classrooms abroad, which provide opportunities for students to expand their learning beyond their traditional classrooms by taking part in an international learning experience. At Durham College we embed internalization in everything we do, both by bringing the world to DC, and by bringing DC to the world. Our students are so excited to meet their Guatemalan counterparts and have already learned so much”.

James Arron, executive director of SOS echoed the importance of the educational sector’s role in achieving the SDGs. “By linking together the needs of our Guatemalan partners and capacity of Durham College, we have been able to create a truly win-win solution for everyone involved. It’s a great example of how the post-secondary sector can be a leader in helping achieve the SDGs. Kudos to Durham College for stepping up as a pioneer in that movement.”