Helping schools


Helping Schools is one of our core projects aimed at assessing evidence, identifying promising practices, developing resources to support effective responses to substance use and gambling. We provide consultation and support to educators and their partners—parents, health professionals and others in the school community. Helping Schools is not a program to be selected and implemented. It is a way of being that promotes healthy development in the K-12 setting. The activities and resources are all grounded in a consistent philosophy of education and support comprehensive school health.

Students, individually and collectively, need to develop health literacy. The goal of health literacy can be described as “action competence,” the ability of students to take increased control of their own lives and influence the surrounding world to improve wellbeing. Health literacy not only empowers individuals but enables their engagement in collective health promotion actions. A robust health literacy helps students develop the capacity to interact effectively with environments in which drug use and gambling are common. It helps them explore who they are, learn how to make informed decisions, and develop critical thinking and strategies they can call upon when facing new and challenging situations.

Helping Schools promotes an ecological approach that does not focus on "fixing" students but aims to change the school environment and actively engage students in the learning process. Rather than relying solely on a drug/gambling education program to teach children how to make healthy choices, the whole-school approach encourages the school itself—its structures, policies, procedures, staff and partners—to operate in a healthy way and thereby both model and promote health.

The focus of Helping Schools is to build capacity within the school setting. This involves providing activities and resources to promote professional learning and the development of sample iMinds lessons to inspire teachers to consider what is possible and get them started on exploiting the opportunities within their curricular areas.


For a list of publications see or