for Youth (HRY) Program / Relations Saines pour les Jeunes (RSJ)
The Healthy Relationships for Youth (HRY) Program is a school-based, peer-facilitated, violence prevention program offered in partnership with schools locally in the Strait Regional Centre for Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, and across Nova Scotia.
About the Program
The HRY Program uses a strengths-based approach that encourages students to deepen their understanding of diversity and to recognize and challenge sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia as forms of violence that impact personal and social relationships. It centers on youth as peer educators in their classrooms, schools, and communities. Youth-to-youth teaching is foundational to the HRY Program.
Our HRY team trains and supports students in grades 11 and 12 to facilitate a series of ten sessions to grade 9 students with Healthy Living 9 classroom teachers. The youth facilitators learn about leadership, facilitation, and critical analysis; skills they build on in years to come. They build their confidence in public speaking and leading, increase their knowledge of issues affecting youth, improve their personal relationships, and become more involved in social action. Participants in grade 9 learn not only about healthy relationships but are also provided with role models in their older peers.
Our participatory sessions are designed to reduce the risk of violence for youth through developing their skills and knowledge about creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Our sessions include the following:
- Session 1 – Healthy Relationships for Youth
- Session 2 – Values and Decision Making
- Session 3 – Friendship, Rejection, and Other Relationships
- Session 4 – Personal Boundaries and Consent
- Session 5 – Communication and Conflict Resolution
- Session 6 – Diversity, Inclusion and Privilege
- Session 7 – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Session 8 – Social Media , Gender Norms, and Stereotypes
- Session 9 – Power and Violence
- Session 10 – Where Are We Now?
Our HRY team works with 24 schools around Nova Scotia, 10 in the Strait Region since 2006. Each year approximately 450 youth facilitators (grade 11 and 12 students) are trained and supported to facilitate the HRY Program to about 1200 grade 9 students.
How we Work
We believe in:
- youth-facilitated learning and being youth-centered
- focusing on diversity for violence prevention
- building key skills for healthy relationships
- taking a gender analysis to program design
- using a trauma-informed approach
- collaborating between community organizations and schools
- having an adaptable model for use in other communities, centres for education, and school boards
- linking to Healthy Living 9 curriculum outcomes
Our HRY team develops the program by including youth voice>, teacher feedback, and emerging issues through a yearly evaluation.
Youth voice is gathered in several ways:
- Our Youth Advisory Committee meets regularly with our HRY team to share their thoughts on how the program can be improved
- Spark the Change, our yearly youth retreat, includes focus groups and interviews to understand the different aspects of the program
- Our HRY team often works with students in employment, volunteer, internship, and placement opportunities to update the program
What Youth Say About the Program
Awards and Honours
Best Practice Program
Featured as a Best Practice Program at the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s National Skills Institute in 2012 and a participating program in the National Teen Healthy Relationships Working Group from 2013 to 2017
Canadian Best Practice Portal
Highlighted as a Promising Practice by the Public Health Agency of Canada on their Canadian Best Practice Portal
Leadership in Crime Prevention
Received the 2013 Minister’s Award in Leadership in Crime Prevention from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice
Highlighted as a Promising Practice by the Nova Scotia Child and Youth Strategy in 2014