Changing Futures Project

In November 2011, the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy brought together a group of diverse stakeholders to discuss common goals regarding the prevention of youth substance use and the promotion of mental health in our community.  Through these discussions, it was acknowledged that these issues are important areas of focus for many ministries, sectors, councils, committees, organizations, parents, and young people in our community.  However, it was agreed that efforts to respond are often uncoordinated, can take place in silos, and are frequently based in ideology: what we think “should” work, as opposed to what the research and existing best practices recommend.

From these initial conversations, the Changing Futures project originated, with a goal to develop a cross-sectoral, coordinated, measureable community plan to prevent problematic substance use and to promote mental health in Guelph and Wellington County.

To date, the Changing Futures Project brought together over 300 community members, stakeholders and planners to an October 2012 Prevention Summit, where information was presented on the risks and protective factors influencing youth substance misuse and mental health, as well as effective community-based responses.  Keynotes for the day included Dr. Kenneth Minkoff, Dr. Wayne Hammond and Dr. Gabor Mate, as well representatives from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Parent Action on Drugs In the months that have followed, over 50 community leaders and planners have been engaged in developing a our community plan, using the knowledge presented at the Summit, research and local data as a foundation for its formation. 

Thus far, the draft plan includes recommended actions within each of the following six key components:

  1. Creating a Culture of Hope and Wellness
  2. Preventing Trauma and Other Adverse Childhood Events
  3. Strengthening Relationships for Families and Communities
  4. Enhancing Place
  5. Community Engagement
  6. Integrated Service Planning and Delivery.


Early in 2013, a series of consultations took place with community stakeholders, including parents, youth, community agencies, school boards, committees and councils to gather their valuable input into what has been developed thus far.  A targeted publication date of summar 2013 has been set for publication of the framework.  A working group has been established that will review the recommendations and foster ways to implement them in the community.