Project Spotlight: Northwestern Health Unit

Community Youth Wellness PreVenture Program

Delivering a culturally adapted model of the PreVenture Program, an evidence-based prevention program that focuses on strengths and uses personality targeted interventions to promote youth mental health and delay substance use.


Indigenous youth and youth transitioning into high school.



The program aims to aid youth in the difficult transition from elementary to secondary school, limiting the negative impact on academic progress and mental health. Primary objectives include:

  • Increased number of community partners trained to provide evidence-based, culturally adapted services/support to Indigenous and at-risk students
  • Strengthened service and delivery model of the Four Directions Community Pathways Partnership Program and secondary school orientation procedures
  • Increased number of Indigenous and at risk elementary/secondary students accessing mental health and education transition supports


The essential components of the PreVenture Program include group-based peer interactions, facilitator-guided discussions and brief structured personality-targeted cognitive behavioural exercises provided by certified facilitators. The workshops are designed to help youth build self-efficacy, and the coping and cognitive behavioural skills needed to manage developmental challenges such as academic stress, peer pressure, interpersonal conflict and identity development.

Indigenous Elders can be present to provide a prayer/blessing for the opening/closing of all workshops implemented with students, as well as any facilitator training provided. Building and maintaining ongoing relationships with Elders is an important practice that can become a significant protective factor for youth and their families.



Key partnerships include the two largest school boards in the Kenora-Rainy River Districts (Keewatin-Patricia and Rainy River District School Boards), as well as numerous other health and social service agencies who will be engaged in local delivery of the program in schools.

Implementation sites

  • To help ensure access to the program, PreVenture can be delivered in-person, online or in a hybrid model where remote students virtually participate with the in-person workshops.


  • Research shows that the transition period from elementary to secondary school can directly influence educational attainment, disrupt academic progress and has been described as one of the most stressful events youth will experience
  • Current access to virtual or in-person treatment is not meeting the need for services


Key protective factors

  • Identity/belonging
  • Coping
  • Self-esteem
  • Healthy relationships with peers
  • Social and emotional skills

Key approaches

  • Building and maintaining relationships with Elders