Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham (BBBSND) and Durham College’s (DC) Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) is pleased to announce it is receiving $75,000 in applied research funding via a College and Community Program – Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19 grant, awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The funding will be used to support a collaborative project between DC and Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham (BBBSND), an organization that provides vital mentorship programming to vulnerable youth who deal with anxiety in rural areas of Uxbridge, Scugog, and Brock Townships. The project will be led by two DC nursing faculty members, Crystal Garvey and Jacqueline Williamson, who have ample experience working with youth and addressing issues of mental health.

BBBSND has a long history serving the youth in these communities, and is very familiar with the daily hardships they experience. These include having limited opportunities to build healthy relationships and little or no access to supports, including transportation and technology. In addition, before the pandemic occurred, BBBSND estimated that 75 per cent of youth they work with deal with anxiety on a regular basis.

Knowing that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these challenges, the project is designed to ensure that the vitally important mentor support provided to mentees is maintained and does not deteriorate despite physical distancing challenges. The mental health needs of the mentor and mentee will also be addressed.

Those resources include building a bank of activities, tools and mental health supports that are easily accessible to mentors and can serve as a roadmap for use by BBBS Canada and others in rural communities across the country. The resulting resource bank will be useful for BBBSND to enhance training of current and future mentors. The resources may also be disseminated by the national office to other BBBS agencies for their use.

Students from various DC programs, including, Child and Youth Care and Nursing, as well as those from the School of Media, Art & Design, will be involved at various stages of the project, providing them with experiential learning opportunities while also meeting project objectives.

For more information about ORSIE visit

Click Here for an Article on the program, “Coronavirus: Community partnership aims to help youth cope with social isolation during pandemic”, by Global News.