SafeSource student pub campaign wins national award

A unique program conducted by York student volunteers has won a national award as Campaign of the Year from Bacchus Canada, a postsecondary healthy lifestyles education, training and support group dedicated to addressing alcohol-related issues on campuses across Canada.

SafeSource volunteers

Right: Billi Jo Cox (far right), director of Bacchus Canada, congratulates SafeSource volunteer representatives Matthew Manzano (left) and Jannies Le

The SafeSource campaign, which staffs the Safe Pubbing Kiosk in York’s Student Centre, was chosen for its innovative direct approach and the size of its volunteer crew. The SafeSource campaign is one of several initiatives coordinated by the Health Education & Promotion Office of York’s Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development (CSCLD) which has about 40 student volunteers.

“The program was a hands-down winner,” said Billi Jo Cox, director of Bacchus Canada, who presented the award at a reception held in Chancellor’s at the Underground Tuesday. “It’s an innovative program with fantastic student involvement.”

Every Thursday night, from 9pm to 1am, SafeSource volunteers man the kiosk near the entrance to the largest student pub on campus, the Underground, offering a variety of services to pub patrons: everything from free condoms, water and phone calls for taxis to referrals and advice on getting help with lifestyle issues. During the evening, volunteers will also mingle with pub patrons talking about a range of lifestyle issues that may concern them, letting them know that help is available. Students can make a phone call from the kiosk upstairs to call a cab or York Student Security for assistance in travelling home.

“It’s a tough gig. Without the students, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Sylvia Schippke, York’s assistant vice-president, student community development.

Volunteers Matthew Manzano, a second-year criminology student in the Faculty of Arts, and Jannies Le, a second-year social work student in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, accepted the award on behalf of their fellow volunteers.

“It’s a way to get the information out there,” said Manzano. “We go down into the pub and tell people we’re available and hand out condoms. It’s become a bit of a trademark of health education at York.”

Le became a volunteer to fulfill a degree requirement for community service hours and discovered it was fun. “We also help out with Wellness Wednesdays and give people tips on how to hold safe parties and make mocktails,” Le said.

On the larger life issues – such as quitting smoking, coping with stress and other personal crises, volunteers will refer students, where appropriate, to Janis Ellis-Claypool, coordinator of health education & promotion for the CSCLD, who can introduce students to staff members in the Counselling & Development Centre.

The volunteers are from the Health Education & Promotion office, Sexual Assault Survivor’s Support Line, and other student service partners. The SafeSource team attends a training focusing on interacting safely with students who may have had too much to drink by offering appropriate intervention procedures.

SafeSource, which was recently expanded to include other campus pubs, is the project of the Office of Health Education & Promotion, the Student Centre, Security and Campus Relations, Sexual Assault Survivor’s Support Line (SASSL), TBLGAY, and Peer Support. A portion of the funding for SafeSource comes from the Women’s Safety on Campus Grant.

BACCHUS Canada, the postsecondary division of registered charity and not-for-profit organization The Student Life Education Company, is committed to the education, training and support of post secondary students with regards to healthy lifestyles and responsible decision-making. BACCHUS Canada is now in it’s 19th year of leadership and success in addressing alcohol-related issues on postsecondary campuses across Canada.