Building community capacity for effective drug education (completed)

The objective of this multi-year project was to develop a system by which a common understanding consistent with current provincial health and education policy and the skills necessary for effective implementation of drug education can be nurtured and sustained through structures and mechanisms within school districts, health authorities and communities.

The project recognized the existence of drug content expertise within the health system and education process expertise within the education system. Recognizing that education is largely relational and needs to promote inquiry and dialogue rather than didactic instruction, the project sought to maximize educational effectiveness by leveraging the capacity with health to support effective pedagogical efforts within education.

During the period of the project, a significant re-design of the BC curriculum was being undertaken by the BC Ministry of Education. This re-design, in many ways, was aligned with the efforts this project was pursuing relative to drug education (emphasis on inquiry and competency development).

During the first three months of fiscal year 2016-17, as the project was winding down, activities included:

  • completing the development of classroom resources informed by the project
  • conducting key informant interviews with the implementation partners in nine BC school districts
  • participating in a multi-project KTE event involving other Health Canada funded projects in BC

Outputs from this project have been rolled into the Helping Schools and iMinds collections of professional learning and classroom resources. Key lessons learned from the project include:

  1. When working with communities we must work within their timeframe and context. This often takes more time than we anticipate for plans to be developed and implemented. Other priorities and complications often require attention. Patience and flexibility are critical to success.
  2. Relationships matter. Where good working relationships were already in place (e.g., between health and education; between administration and teachers) things progressed much more quickly than when they were not. Building understanding and positive relationships is an essential part of the work.
  3. Changing community systems is a lot like motivating personal change. Open questions, active listening, developing discrepancy, rolling with resistance and empowering others are transferable skills that work in both environments. 

Related projects


  • Dan Reist (principal)
  • Andrew, Cindy (school liaison)
  • Reimer, Bette
  • Asgari, Mahboubeh
  • Pankratz, Nicole
  • Nicolussi, Gaelle
  • Nicole Jackson