Evaluating treatment: 9 Ontario programs collaborating on program and outcome evaluation

The Research Department at Pine River Institute is pleased to announce the approval of a grant application to the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health Knowledge Exchange Initiatives. PRI was the lead applicant in a team of nine organizations on the project named: 

First Steps for Systematic Evaluation of Child & Youth Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

This funding of almost $15,000 will support a workshop in November 2012 that will allow program representatives in the youth addictions sector to start what we call the ‘messy conversation’ about what we think our program outcomes are, what we measure, and what we think are the necessary elements of program evaluation for youth treatment. This is a first step toward increased capacity and a shared approach for program evaluation in Ontario in the youth addiction sector. We will continue these conversations via teleconferences, and synthesize our findings to inform a plan for a province-wide roll out of similar workshops.

Ready to take on the world

Congratulations to the graduating students and families!  Last night we celebrated the hard work, commitment, and SUCCESS of five graduates.  These graduates moved out of the Residence several months ago and have now completed the Aftercare Phase. We are so proud, and excited to hear all about the wonderful things to come for them…

Pine River Institute Receives Environmental Funding

Pine River Institute is proud to announce that we are the recipient of the Community Environment Fund Grant!  This grant, sponsored by Earth Day Canada and Sobey’s, supports local environmental initiatives and projects in Ontario. Pine River’s Sustainable Food Project will see the creation of a high-yield, organic vegetable garden; water harvesting; composting; and the creation of a new kitchen garden.  This kitchen garden will feature a wide variety of culinary herbs just steps from the kitchen door.  As students and staff prepare meals they can harvest fresh, wholesome herbs and vegetables.  

This project will increase access to organic produce; reduce water use; decrease emissions from food transportation; and educate students, families, staff and volunteers about local, sustainable food systems. 

Teacher Anne Thomson said,  “This project answers the call for healthier food in youth institutions.  Unlike the average Canadian school cafeteria, youth at the Pine River Institute are part of a much needed ground-breaking approach to institutional food sourcing.  Not only will the food be wholesome it will be ecologically sound, free of synthetic chemicals and prodced on-site.”

We are delighted with our new partnership with Earth Day Canada and look forward to seeing Pine River grow!

A Father’s Words - shared at our most recent graduation celebration

“As parents we are thrilled with our babies and feel that their lives are filled with possibility. We hope for the best for them. We watch them grow into essentially good kids. Then something bewildering happens. We witness their lives collapse. They become dependent on drugs and alcohol, fail at school, become defiant and sometimes violent at home, get in trouble with the law, and begin to climb down the social ladder. Before we know it the arena of possibility we once saw as endless has shrunk to almost a single point. My only hope was for my daughter to survive long enough to pull out of this death-defying tailspin. A “good” day became a day with no bad news.

An aphorism attributed to Aristotle goes like this: “We become that which we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not a single act but a habit.”  In one sense this has alarming implications for our kids. What are they becoming? Certainly not contributing members of a family or a community or a society.

We shuttled from one social service agency to another. Once, in the terribly awkward moment after my daughter had stormed out of a consultation, I lamented to the counselor that I felt helpless to do anything for her. She assured me that I was indeed doing the best thing I could possibly do. That was a simple and powerful message that kept me going when it seemed like all hope was lost.

Ultimately my daughter had been offered a number of short-term programs and rejected them all in favour of going to PRI. I believe she must have known in her heart that six weeks of group counseling was not going make a dent in her decline.

One thing that impressed me about the staff at PRI, from the rocky initiation in the woods, through the long residential phase, through to the aftercare, was their ability to see through the defiance, the layers of drama and deceptiveness and see that essential good kid within, with a heart and a head that I had lost track of in all the turmoil.

I also want to acknowledge the role of the other kids in the community. When my daughter went AWOL and ended up in a youth shelter, PRI was able to get a message to her. It was simply a package of letters that her team members, her peers, had written expressing their love and concern for her. It made all the difference in her decision to return to PRI, even though it meant starting all over again in the woods.

Doing the work that is done at PRI is difficult. You can’t throw dozens of these kids into a facility and expect things to go smoothly or flawlessly. It is not a single act performed on a given day that represents the turning point, although there are plenty of those along the way. What has made the difference for my kid, going back to Aristotle, is the habit of excellence practiced at PRI.

 Is life after PRI perfect? No. But it is once again a life with possibility. For this I am grateful.”

Silent Auction for Pine River at the Trail Run Relay

There will be a Silent Auction at the Trail Run Relay this Sunday, with all proceeds going towards Pine River’s Help Make A Home Campaign.  Included in the auction are these beautiful creations from artists Stephanie and Frank Vandermey.  You can check them out in person at the event.  Thanks Vandermeys!

Last Chance to Register

The TREAD 6-Hour Trail Run Relay is THIS WEEKEND, Sunday, May 27th.  Registration closes at midnight on Thursday, May 24th.  If you’re signing up, this is your last chance - head on over to PineRiverInstitute.com.

This week's training tip from Coach Paul

“In order to do well in your race, you need to know your Pace”

In long distance running, pace is very important. Runners should try to avoid going out too fast, especially too early. Going out too slow can also be a bad thing - you can use more energy to run slowly and often offers diminished returns.

You should be running at a very comfortable pace and avoid running a faster pace than you can maintain. If you are running solo or several relay legs, you should WALK up the hills and save the running for flats and downhills (although while training, running up hills is helpful for muscle building and endurance). 

Having a good strategy regarding your pace before you start will help guarantee a successful finish.

We are getting close to race day and everyone training should be running on tired legs to prepare oneself for race day. 

Soon enough, we will be brushing shoulders at the start line. Keep up the training. We are almost done.

Awesome Schedule of Events for May 27th

We’re less than 3 weeks away from the big day!  If you haven’t yet registered to participate, head on over to PineRiverInstitute.comearly bird rates end May 13th. 

There are many ways to participate in the TREAD 6 Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River on May 27th, 2012.  It will be a great event for families, kids, competitive runners, first-time joggers, and leisurely meander-ers alike!  The 4km trail will be open from 10 am until 4 pm – during this time you and your teammates can complete as many (or as few) laps of the course as you want.  When you’re not on the trail you can enjoy live music, kids activities, yoga, storytelling, delicious food, and more!

Artist Frank Vandermey just completed a beautiful wood sculpture on our main campus.  Some of his creations will be available in a silent auction at the Tread 6-Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River on May 27th.

Thank you Frank!!

May 14th @ 6:30 pm: When Does Adolescent Behaviour Cross a Line?

Join clinical director Dr. Victoria Creighton and founder Dr. Karen Minden on Monday, May 14th at 6:30 pm for this session, held at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  

“It’s important to treat the whole person”

Our clinical director Dr. Victoria Creighton was interviewed by Andrea Gordon for an article in the Toronto Star. Follow the link to read:  “Teens Facing Addiction and Mental Illness Need Services That Treat Both.”

At Pine River Institute we are working to create our own local food system. We have a garden just outside the school that produces vegetables for the kitchen.  Students can enroll in an experiential high school course called “Forests and Farms” that focuses on sustainable food production. 

The garden season is well under way here. The garden has been tilled and students planted pea, carrot, radish, beet, and kale seeds.  Also, many of our perennial plants have sprung up, including rhubarb pictured here.

This week's training tip from Coach Paul

When running for periods longer than an hour, it is essential to have a fuel plan. A fuel plan helps ensure that you don’t make mistakes as fatigue sets in and keeps you running strongly. You should start the race properly fueled and then take in about 150 calories every 45 minutes until you are done running. Sports gels are a popular option. However, you should try sports gels during your training to find what works for you. 

Also remember that eating too much before a race can lead to cramping. Try to avoid fatty foods and high protein foods, as these both take longer to digest and use water in the body to break them down.

Keep Moving!

Coach Paul

"The Spirit of Harriet Tubman" play

Yesterday students from the Pine River Institute attended a play entitled “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman”. Hosted by the Wellington County Museum, the play features Leslie McCurdy who recreates the familiar and rarely told stories of the famous Underground Railway “conductor”.  This one-woman show used Harriet’s own words in telling the story of her life from her earliest experiences as a slave, through her work on the underground railroad, to her continued commitment to others in her later years.  The play taught PRI students to follow your dreams and not let other people’s fears get in your way.

Roots of Addiction, on The Agenda this evening

Tonight on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, tune in for a discussion on the Roots of Addiction.  This is part of The Agenda’s Mental Health Matters series. It will air on TVO tonight at 8pm and 11pm, and will also livestream at 8 pm here with a livechat component.

Weekly Training Tips from Coach Paul

Each week leading up to the TREAD 6 Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River Coach Paul will be offering a training tip on our facebook event page.  The event page is also a great place to connect with other participants!  

Here’s last week’s tip:

We have a saying in the running world: “cotton is rotten”.

Cotton can hold up to 30 times its weight in water as well as taking forever to dry. You should be picking your gear for race day as early as you can to make sure you are comfortable. This applies to all your running gear, but socks and under garments are most important, as they will help prevent blisters and chaffing. Trying new clothes as early as possible, during training runs, will give you ample time to find what works and what doesn’t. Dri-fit and technical athletic wear is highly recommended. 

Keep Moving.

TREAD 6 Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River Fundraising CHAMPIONS!

Incredible – we’ve reached our preliminary $10,000 fundraising goal already!  The challenge is on now to raise another $10,000 by event day – for a total of $20,000 towards the Help Make A Home campaign. 

We have an urgent need to secure our home, upgrade our facilities, and expand our capacity to meet the growing demand for Pine River Institute’s expert care.  We need to raise $3.5 million to do just that.  We are currently about half way towards our campaign goal, thanks to a handful of committed individuals and foundations.  Raising a total of $20,000 through the TREAD 6 Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River will be a great contribution to this campaign – and to the many youth and families who will have access to Pine River Institute’s care.

Your incredible support – as fundraisers, sponsors, and volunteers – inspires others to be a part of this Pine River Institute community coming together to Help Make A Home.  Many thanks.

More than $4000 raised for the TREAD 6-Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River!  Paul Brazeau takes the lead for top individual fundraiser, and the Camp Arowhon Team is still in the lead for top team fundraiser.  If you haven’t signed up to participate yet - go to our website www.PineRiverInstitute.com and put together a team for May 27th, 2012.  Our AWESOME volunteers are working hard to organize amazing entertainment, food, and prizes, to be announced soon.  Stay tuned.

Is it all heart? Pine River as panelist at upcoming event

Karen Minden, Pine River founder and now CEO of Pine River Foundation will be a panelist at this upcoming Institute of Corporate Directors event on performance measurement and accountability for Not-For-Profit organizations.  Accountability is a core value at PRI, and we are pleased to be participating in this initiative!  

Is It All Heart? Performance Measurement for NFPs

Institute of Corporate Directors, Ontario Chapter
Afternoon Session - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Directors are familiar with the range of performance metrics in profit-based organizations, but performance measurement and accountability in Not-for-Profit Organizations is a challenging area. This panel discussion will address some of the issues faced by NFPs in developing and applying performance metrics and propose suggestions to improve sector performance.

Attendees will also be guided in facilitated discussion to frame key questions which need to be addressed, and to the possible formation of an independent advisory task force which will report back on its deliberations in the coming months.

The learning goals of this session include:

  • Provide a better understanding of the changing landscape of NFP performance assessment

  • Discuss the development and application of performance metrics for NFPs

  • Share experiences with thought leaders and assess alternative approaches

  • Propose ideas and suggestions to improve sector performance and comparability


  • Eileen Mercier, FICB, MBA, F.ICD, Chair, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board


  • Don McCreesh, C.Dir, Chair, Imagine Canada

  • Karen Minden, C.M., PhD, CEO, Pine River Institute Foundation

  • Greg Thomson, Director of Research, Charity Intelligence Canada

We’ve reached $2000 raised for the TREAD 6-Hour Trail Run Relay for Pine River!  After only two weeks we’re well on our way to reaching our $10,000 goal. The Camp Arowhon Team is in the lead!