Durham College receives $75,000 in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to reduce social isolation among youth

College working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham in providing virtual support

Oshawa, Ont. Durham College’s (DC) Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) is pleased to announce it is receiving $75,000 in applied research funding via a College and Community Program – Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19 grant, awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The funding will be used to support a collaborative project between DC and Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham (BBBSND), an organization that provides vital mentorship programming to vulnerable youth who deal with anxiety in rural areas of Uxbridge, Scugog, and Brock Townships. The project will be led by two DC nursing faculty members, Crystal Garvey and Jacqueline Williamson, who have ample experience working with youth and addressing issues of mental health.

BBBSND has a long history serving the youth in these communities, and is very familiar with the daily hardships they experience. These include having limited opportunities to build healthy relationships and little or no access to supports, including transportation and technology. In addition, before the pandemic occurred, BBBSND estimated that 75 per cent of youth they work with deal with anxiety on a regular basis.

Knowing that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these challenges, the project is designed to ensure that the vitally important mentor support provided to mentees is maintained and does not deteriorate despite physical distancing challenges. The mental health needs of the mentor and mentee will also be addressed.

“We are looking forward to working with Big Brothers, Big Sisters North Durham to ensure the needs of the youth they serve, as well as the mentors, are met during this unprecedented time,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, ORSIE. “Through collaboration with a number of the college’s programs, we will be able to draw on our expertise in online learning, providing custom resources to not only maintain but enhance BBBSND’s program delivery.”

Those resources include building a bank of activities, tools and mental health supports that are easily accessible to mentors and can serve as a roadmap for use by BBBS Canada and others in rural communities across the country. The resulting resource bank will be useful for BBBSND to enhance training of current and future mentors. The resources may also be disseminated by the national office to other BBBS agencies for their use.

Students from various DC programs, including, Child and Youth Care and Nursing, as well as those from the School of Media, Art & Design, will be involved at various stages of the project, providing them with experiential learning opportunities while also meeting project objectives.

For more information about ORSIE visit www.durhamcollege.ca/orsie.


About Durham College

With campuses in Oshawa and Whitby and a learning site in Pickering, Durham College (DC) offers approximately 13,400 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students access to more than 140 full-time and nine apprenticeship programs, including the Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science and Honours Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management.

DC enables students to develop the career-ready skills required to meet the demands of today’s job market by connecting them with expert faculty and offering quality programs. With a focus on experiential learning through field placements, applied research, co-ops and other hands-on opportunities, DC grads have the skills and knowledge employers need.

The Oshawa campus features DC’s newest building, the Centre for Collaborative Education, which represents the college’s commitment to working with local business and community partners while bringing together local, Indigenous and global communities and members of key business sectors.

DC’s Whitby campus is home to the Skills Training Centre, where students receive hands-on training and instruction in industrial-grade shop labs for carpentry, HVAC, welding, elevating devices and crane operation, among others. The campus also features the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, which includes Bistro ’67, a full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, and Pantry, a retail store featuring food prepared by students in the college’s culinary programs.

For more information, visit www.durhamcollege.ca or call 905.721.2000.

Media contact:

Meghan Ney

Communications and Marketing

905.721.2000 ext. 2197