Youth Diversion receives $17k grant toward addiction workshops for elementary students

Shawn Quigley, executive director of Youth Diversion (second from right), is joined by Sandy McDonald from Bell, and a group of students from Southview Public School in Napanee to drop the puck at the Kingston Frontenacs game against the Oshawa Generals on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Shortly thereafter, Bell presented Youth Diversion with a $17,000 grant towards their early addiction education program. Submitted photo.

While the Bell Let’s Talk campaign undoubtedly raises mental health awareness across the country, here in Kingston, it’s also helping to raise awareness about addiction, thanks to a recently announced grant.

Every year, Bell donates funds to Canadian mental health programs based on the results of Bell Let’s Talk Day. The funding all comes directly from Bell, which puts five cents into its Community Fund every time someone uses one of their ‘interactions,’ such as the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, on Bell Let’s Talk Day (which is January 30 each year).

The campaign itself is great for starting conversations and breaking down stigma surrounding mental health, it also sees thousands and thousands of dollars granted to various organizations across Canada which address mental health issues and awareness in their communities. This year, some of those funds are being put to work right here in Kingston, as the Youth Diversion Program has received $17,000 from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund.

The funds will go directly towards providing early addition education for elementary school students in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington, and used to deliver seven-week addiction education workshops for grade six, seven and eight classes. And for Shawn Quigley, executive director of the Youth Diversion Program, the funding couldn’t come at a better time, he expressed.

“With the legalization of cannabis and our community’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis, these funds are coming at a critical time allowing us to be more preventative and better inform youth of the potential dangers of early substance use,” Quigley said.

“The Bell Let’s talk Community Fund will help us expand these workshops and increase our ability to reach more youth through a preventative lens.”

The addiction education workshops are already taking place in some classrooms, and initial feedback has shown that students are increasing their understanding of addictions literacy through the program, according to Youth Diversion. Students become more knowledgeable of community resources, as well as the link between substance use and mental health.

The Youth Diversion Program was presented with the grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 at the Kingston Frontenacs’ game against Oshawa Generals at the Leon’s Centre. Quigley was on hand with a group of students from Southview Public School in Napanee to receive the funds from Sandy McDonald of Bell. The students represented one group of those who have already graduated from the seven-week addiction education workshops.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to help the Youth Diversion Program offer more workshops to ensure young people understand the mental health risks associated with substance abuse,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk.

“Having doubled the annual Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund to $2 million in 2018, we are supporting some 120 organizations across Canada, like the Youth Diversion Program, that are making a difference for those affected by mental health issues in their communities.”

Bell Let’s Talk Day takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. That day, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for each of the following interactions, at no extra cost to participants:


  • Talk: Every mobile call and every long distance call made by Bell wireless and phone customers
  • Text: Every text message sent by Bell wireless customers
  • Twitter: Every tweet and retweet using #BellLetsTalk and Bell Let’s Talk Day video view at com/Bell_LetsTalk
  • Facebook: Every view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video at com/BellLetsTalk and use of the Bell Let’s Talk frame
  • Instagram: Every Bell Let’s Talk Day video view at com/bell_letstalk
  • Snapchat: Every use of the Bell Let’s Talk filter and video view


To find out more about Bell Let’s Talk, click here. To find out more about the Youth Diversion Program, click here.

Sandy McDonald (L) presents a grant for $17,000 to Shawn Quigley (R), executive director of Youth Diversion, who was joined by a group of students who recently graduated from Youth Diversion’s seven-week addiction education workshop. The funding will go directly towards providing the workshops in elementary schools throughout KFL&A. Submitted photo.

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