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  • Writer's pictureLisa Dixon-Wells

25 Years of Fostering Kinder, Safer Communities

dare to care celebrates 25 years

Dare to Care is celebrating 25 years

Let's talk about change — real and lasting change — in a community's ability to prevent bullying behaviour.

When most of us think about bullying, we picture it as a series of actions by a few individuals targeting one or two others. But in truth, bullying is a systemic problem that involves and impacts every member of a community. Everyone who is part of a community plays a role in allowing bullying; therefore, everyone has a role in creating an environment where bullying cannot survive.

For 25 years, Dare to Care has facilitated systemic change that embraces diversity, inclusion and equity. Since 1999, more than 2000 schools, districts, and youth sports programs across Canada and beyond have learned and continue to practice the Dare to Care approach. Initially, the program was delivered to Alberta schools. By 2013, the program's reach expanded nationally, and in 2017, the organization added the Dare to Care in Sports program.

What makes Dare to Care unique is its ability to engage every stakeholder in creating a climate of caring. At the program's core is recognition of the power of a community's "silent majority" – the 79% or so who witness bullying behaviour but do not speak up or step in. Most observers would like to help when they see a bullying incident taking place, but often, they fear retribution or are concerned that they will make the situation worse. However, when prepared with knowledge and usable skills, this majority is key to firing up a community's climate of kindness.

Dare to Care founder and educational psychologist Lisa Dixon-Wells is passionate about bully prevention. Her commitment dates back to her middle school years, when she witnessed the damage caused by bullying behaviour. She encourages parents, coaches, and educators to examine their histories for memories of bullying incidents. More often than not, the stories are easy to recall and include indelible images.

Dixon-Wells and the Dare to Care program are mindful of the pain that leads to bullying behaviour and the pain it causes. She also understands that the problem of bullying and its solution involves every member of the community. As Dixon-Wells will tell you, it's not about changing the bullies but about building a shared commitment to making bullying behaviour unacceptable.

Today, Dare to Care boasts three flagship programs that reach approximately 40,000 people each year: a series of innovative and age-appropriate workshops for children and youth, support and education for parents, and extensive professional development workshops for teachers, administrators, coaches, officials, support staff, and management.

Although the programs speak to different audiences, they promote a shared understanding of what bullying is and provide everyone with effective skills and tools to address bullying behaviour when it arises. Practice sessions and role-playing help everyone feel confident enough to act, from young children to experienced educators. The result is more consistent intervention and follow-through, leading to true transformation.

Dare to Care has been recognized with the Imagine Canada Award for Community Partnership: Building Stronger Canadian Communities and the Government of Alberta Inspiration Award for Leadership in Bully Prevention. 

As exciting as those accolades have been, Dixon-Wells and her colleagues find the true rewards in knowing that their work has a real impact on individuals, families, and communities. Anecdotes, observations and surveys of past participants demonstrate the program's effectiveness.

Dare to Care is at the leading edge of bullying prevention because of donors like you who understand how much is riding on our collective ability to create nurturing environments where every child feels safe. Unchecked childhood bullies often carry these behaviours into adulthood, perpetuating a cycle of abuse. Your 25th-anniversary gift will allow more schools and youth sports programs to access the tools they need to provide healthy, positive experiences for children. Click here to support our work and help us bring positive change to every youth-focused environment.

In Canada, 150,000 students miss school every day because of bullying. Seven out of 10 youth drop out of organized sports, walking away from activities they love because of a toxic environment. No child should ever feel alone, afraid, or unwelcome in their school or community. Today, we invite you to help us turn the "silent majority" into a "caring majority" nationwide and to help every community become the best, most positive, most nurturing version of itself.

In celebration of 25 years of bully prevention education, Dare to Care is offering 25% off of its most popular comprehensive school packages. It's our way of saying thank you for the support we have received - and promoting kinder, safer environments for children across the country! Contact us for your discount code.

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