Dare to Care Bully Prevention Virtual Program for Schools

The Cause

Dare to Care was founded in 1999 to address the pervasive and crippling issue of bullying and the associated mental health crisis in school communities. Dare to Care was created with the understanding that a child's mental well-being and sense of safety and belonging is a societal issue and if we are to see systemic change in our schools, ALL stakeholders within that community must be engaged in creating a climate of change.

Since 1999, Dare to Care has worked with over 1500 school communities and 1,000,000 teachers, parents, and students.

Then COVID-19 struck.

It is uncertain when third party organizations/charities, such as Dare to Care will be allowed access to students again so Dare to Care has been working to 'lift and shift' our face to face program to a virtual format. We have contracted Calgary-based Freshwater Creative to help us with the instructional design, animation, and hosting of the virtual site.

In creating the program, we have had to break the development into three stages based on funding:

Phase 1: includes the 'lift and shift' of our Grade 3-6 face to face program into an 8 module virtual program. The Grade 3-6 modules will be ready to launch mid-August
Phase 2: Creation of our the K-2 modules to be ready will be ready in late August
Phase 3: The development of the Parent, and Professional Development modules for teachers and administrator. We are hoping to complete this portion by mid-September dependent on funding.

There is no question that the 2020/2021 school year will be a very different experience and a challenging time for students, parents and teachers. With some parents choosing to keep their children at home for the year and some returning to class, the Dare to Care virtual program is designed to allow classroom teachers to simultaneous work with those students who are learning from home and those students who are in the classroom. Opportunities for classmates to interact with each other will become a very important addition in the school curriculum.

* The Dare to Care online program will be able to benefit Calgary (Southern Alberta), as well as Edmonton (Northern Alberta) and Yellowknife (NWT) but the application only allowed selection of one community market.

Who Will it Benefit?

The Dare to Care online program will allow us to expand on important social issues, as they present themselves. This will allow Dare to Care to remain current and relevant. As well, by creating a virtual platform for our program, we will be able to expand our reach to previously unvisited communities. The following is a summary of the various individuals who will benefit from the online program:

1. For the schools who have previously implemented the Dare to Care in-person program, the online learning modules will allow those students who are physically in the classroom to interact with their classmates who have chosen to learn at home this coming school year. While they may be separated, together they can continue to create safe and caring communities through interactive learning and activities.

2. Along with the mobilization of student in bully prevention, parents and school staff must also have a common language and skills when issues of bullying have been presented. The online program will provide both the parents and school staff with education and skill development modules so the entire school community can act together in creating caring environments where inclusion, diversity, and compassion are nurtured.

3. Alberta has the largest number of home schooled children in the country with over 10,000 registered with either the Alberta Homeschooling Association (non Faith-based) or the Alberta Home Education Association (Faith based). Many parents who chose to home school their child, prior to COVID, chose to do so because of social issues at school which often included bullying. Dare to Care has never worked with these two associations in the past. The on-line program, however, will allow us to provide support and lessons for parents and their home schooled child(ren) to work together to build self-esteem, social skills and bully prevention skills so they can thrive in life, learning, and play.

4. Finally, the creation of the on-line program will allow for the Dare to Care program to be easily accessed by all communities throughout Alberta and NWT.
In the past, some school communities were unable to implement the program because of the travel costs associated with bringing a Dare to Care facilitator into the rural or remote community. The online program will allow equal access to school communities regardless of their location. This is perhaps the most exciting aspect of Dare to Care's expansion into the virtual space.