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Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc.

Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth


Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth.

Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth Annual Report 2011-2012.indd 1

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Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

President’s Report Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

An Inspiring Vision Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth.

A Chinese proverb states - if your vision is for a year - plant wheat. If your vision is for a decade plant trees. If your vision is for a life time - plant people. This proverb resonates with our work of enabling kids to take charge of their own health and happiness.

kidsLINK launched its inspiring Vision for kids: young people choose wellness, are resilient and heal from trauma. This is an exciting Vision that compels us all to act for the benefit of kids and their families. We believe that kids have the positive power to contribute to their own healing and resilience. We show them that they have a say in what goes on in their lives. What they require from us is knowledge on how they can live healthy and successful lives. With that rich knowledge, children and youth can make the “right” choices regarding what they eat or do. Helping them understand the link between what they eat and how that can contribute to their holistic wellness is of paramount importance.

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“Wellness is an interactive process of becoming aware of and practicing healthy choices to create a more successful and balanced lifestyle.”

renewed enthusiasm. Together, the Board of Directors, CEO, staff, funders and volunteers are building stronger, healthier and happier families in our Community and beyond. Richard Steinmann, President

We want young people to choose wellness. We want them to be well and resilient, and to heal from psychological trauma. This is what “mental wellness” means to kidsLINK.

Board of Directors

This past year, in collaboration with the CEO, the Board of Directors delved into the first year of the new 3-year Strategic Plan focused on kidsLINK taking a giant step forward in achieving its 2017 Vision. Tangible landmarks were the launch of a new extended day treatment program called Encompass, and introducing an Integrative Medicine approach with new professional disciplines. In advancing our Vision, the Board focused on expanding professional training services and establishing significant new strategic alliances that will take form next year. We are proud of these accomplishments that directly impact the quality of life of kids and their families.

President - Richard Steinmann

kidsLINK is a place for kids to learn, heal and grow. It’s a place where they find hope and love. I am looking forward to another successful year with

John Vieth

Secretary / Treasurer - Stefano Picone Past President - Judith Chopra

Directors Emilio Cabral David Cornwall Josie d’Avernas* Yaacov Iland Lisa Lishman * resigned during the year.

Photo: kidsLINK President - Richard Steinmann 08/06/2012 12:44:11 PM

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Chief Executive Officer’s Report Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Business as Unusual...Good for Kids Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

It was a fabulous year with significant Developing tomorrow’s potential accomplishments. Notably, kidsLINK began a new in today’s children and youth. way of doing business to provide a better healing environment for kids and their families. In bringing our Vision to life, kidsLINK continued to set a platform for providing products and services that are based on an integration of wellness knowledge, resilience building methods and traumainformed principles. This new service approach is informed by research, allowing our programs to fully function in a new way that helps kids make the best choices. We expanded our capacity to do trauma-specific treatment by directing new funding to increase clinical staff with trauma expertise, and to revamp intervention and referral protocols. We also secured funds for comprehensive training of our child and family therapists in additional evidence-based trauma treatment modalities. To make our services more easily accessible, we extended child and family services in the community to new locations in Kitchener and Cambridge. In 2011-2012, kidsLINK reached out to more than 9,000 kids and their families. Our multi-disciplinary response extended to include naturopathy, holistic nutrition and reflexology. The results are encouraging - the children struggling with anxiety and stress have responded extremely well to

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reflexology. 91% of clients reported satisfied with the overall quality of kidsLINK’s programs and services.

Embracing an Integrative Client Service Approach We evolved towards an “integrative service approach” and began shifting our client service staff to be holistically oriented practitioners. The children and youth kidsLINK serves will enjoy the benefits of both conventional and alternative methods that include allopathic medicine. Our integrative approach involves clients engaged in directing their own care and combines multiple therapies with the goal of enhancing optimal health, treating the whole person. kidsLINK is committed to wellness and resilience in body, mind and spirit.

Reaching out to Professionalsin-Training Our much desired student internship program was relaunched providing a richer internship program for professionals-in-training in the child and family service field. Interns enjoyed a new learning and development experience focused on wellness, resilience and trauma knowledge.

We are becoming a resource centre for Wellness, Resilience, and Traumainformed practice where professionals

and professionals-in-training can experience and learn from evidence supported practices.

kidsLINK’s dedication to being a learning and teaching organization that delivers quality services contributes to excellent outcomes for thousands of kids beyond our walls.

Partnerships and Collaborations kidsLINK has been persuing a variety of new business partnerships. This includes creating new research alliances with universities focused on wellness, resilience, or trauma to: • grow our research capacity • expand the student internship program to new disciplines such as holistic medicine • welcome international students There has been a significant increase in the quality and strategic nature of kidsLINK’s communications over the year. We are advocationg for a service system informed about the impact of childhood trauma. Our web-based communications delivered distance learning through webinars, blogs, podcasts and social learning forums. Going forward, kidsLINK is set to be a unique healing and learning environment with standards and practices that we will showcase to the world! Sonia Pouyat, Chief Executive Officer

Photo: kidsLINK CEO - Sonia Pouyat

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Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Learning to Build Strategies for Success Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Joshua: A future leader in the making Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth.

Kristine Meilleur reached into her son’s book bag and took out a notebook. What she saw shocked her! “What could I have done differently? What is going through his head?” she wondered. She stared at her son’s drawing trying to comprehend it. There was no mistaking that he had drawn a picture of children from his grade 3 class, as he had labelled each of the children. Some had Xs in place of eyes to show they were dead. And there was Josh with a cache of weapons. When asked why he drew the picture, Josh responded, “I’m mad. Nobody likes me!” Josh Gough, Kristine’s son, is a creative boy who loves to build with Lego, plays with cars and tells jokes. He’s also very empathetic and caring. He wants to help people experiencing homelessness and children in need.

He also struggles to fit in. He has been angry since his father and mother separated when he was four. Healing the wounds from this traumatic experience has been difficult, since he

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rarely sees his father. Josh had a string of suspensions from school dating back to Junior Kindergarten due to swearing, fighting and lack of respect for authority. In grade 4, he threatened to hang himself. Kristine’s efforts over the years had left her worn out and hopeless. “Most importantly,” she said “I was afraid for my son’s future.” At the same time, kidsLINK launched the Encompass Program, an innovative approach to working with children displaying symptoms resulting from a traumatic experience. Encompass combines a school treatment program and an after school program while the child continues to live at home with their family.

Through Encompass, kidsLINK strives to build meaningful relationships and support for vulnerable, traumatized and disadvantaged youth and their families. The school board suggested Encompass as an option for Josh. Kristine liked this collaborative approach. Josh would get the individualized attention he required, but return home. She appreciated that she would receive intensive support from a home integration worker so that Josh had similar expectations at

home, including using the strategies he learned at kidsLINK. After Josh moves from the kidsLINK school to his home school (normally after 4 – 6 months), the support would continue, in order to transfer his learned skills into his home and school. She knew that Encompass would be there for Josh and her family for 18 months in total. “It has been a very long and exhausting journey to try to find out why Joshua has struggled in so many areas of his life,” said Kristine. Over the past six months, she has received answers. An Individual Education Program (IEP) was developed for Josh, and he started to show an interest in school. “Before he didn’t want to go,” said Kristine “because he didn’t fit in. Now he’s even expressed an interest in attending summer school.” Results of a psycological assessment confirmed that the earlier diagnosis of ADHD and ODD for Josh was correct. He was also diagnosed with a learning disorder affecting his reading and writing, anxiety and a Dysthymic Disorder (a type of depression where people take a negative approach to life). Josh is now receiving an education based on who HE IS, which focuses on his strengths. Monthly conferences with his team at the kidsLINK school help everyone understand why he is in the program and discuss the progress he has been making. One day, he was given three cards. They said, “Speak

Photo: Parent - Kristine Meilleur 08/06/2012 12:44:18 PM

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Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Learning to Build Strategies for Success Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

nicely. Use manners. Treat others as I would like to be treated.” As he mastered those strategies, he was Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s and youth. given morechildren cards. He then started taking the cards home with him, so that he had help there too.

Over time, Josh began to trust and respect the people at school and in the after-school program. He is learning strategies to build his resilience by improving how he deals with situations. Josh’s peer relationships are improving. Where he used to play by himself, he now seeks out friends to play with him, and he gets together with friends outside of school. The team working with Josh recognize his strengths, and they give him opportunities to use them appropriately. In his desire to be in control, they saw leadership skills. They also recognize that he is a compassionate and empathetic child who genuinely wants to help others. His strengths have been combined by having him help new kids in the program get oriented and learn the routines. After six months, the boy who resisted being in Encompass is helping other children make their own transition into the program.

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skills build their resilience to deal with what occurs in their life.

Kristy Becker, as a Home Integration Worker, is the link between Encompass on kidsLINK’s campus and Josh’s home. She meets weekly with Kristine. Josh joins them every other week. The program’s focus on helping Josh make healthy choices, be resilient and pursue his own healing makes this connection very important. “One of our main objectives in the Encompass Program is to keep families together by having home, school and the after-school programs working collaboratively towards the same goal,” said Kristy. To help make that happen, she helps Kristine figure out how difficult situations can be handled better, and makes connections to the strategies and language being used at school, such as when he’s talking back. Kristy also helped Kristine to re-enforce rules for Josh at home. If he doesn’t meet his expectations, there are consequences such as not being able to play Xbox. Kristy connects families to other kidsLINK services to enhance their wellness such as reflexology and music therapy. Using these types of techniques is what makes Encompass stand out from previous approaches to working with children like Josh. Through Encompass, the children learn how to meditate, relax, breathe and use techniques learned through brain gym to develop internal controls. They can use these strategies in the future regardless of the supports or resources available to them. These

Kristine and Josh were introduced to kidsLINK naturopathic doctor, Jennifer Forristal, who recommended several natural remedies to help Josh. Fish oils, for example, are helpful for brain function. A reduction in Josh’s anxiety with the supplement has been noticed. She has also taken a look at Josh’s nutritional habits, and is helping him make healthier food choices since what he eats plays a critical role in his overall experience of wellness. Josh’s story is just beginning. Still at the kidsLINK school, he is only six months into the 18 month long Encompass program. He will also heal his emotional wounds through a trauma-specific therapy through the child and family therapy program where he can address his trauma and tell his story. Already Josh is displaying greater resilience by recognizing when he is in a situation that requires he remove himself. He is also learning that he must return and resolve the situation.

Two years ago, he expressed his anger through a picture of himself lashing out at his classmates. Less than a year ago, he was threatening to kill himself Photo: Encompass Program Team, Ben Pasha, John Bookjans, Todd Nutbrown, Kristy Becker 08/06/2012 12:44:22 PM

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Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Learning to Build Strategies for Success Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

at school. Today, he can accept a leadership role at school and use strategies that help him deal with personal day-to-day situations. Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth.

Kristine has what she lacked in the fall: hope for Josh’s future and new skills and strategies to take control of her family’s wellness. In Kristine’s own words,

“kidsLINK has provided the stability and a strong focus in the areas Josh needs; they have also given me the support and encouragement to learn how to cope and assist Joshua in his day-to-day needs. While I know there lays a long road ahead for Joshua, I can’t begin to thank kidsLINK and the Encompass Program enough—along with each teacher and worker that has personally invested the building blocks to a stronger foundation into both of our lives.”

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Photo: Josh Gough 08/06/2012 12:44:26 PM

Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Driving Change Through Research Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

kidsLINK continues to use research to shape its Developing tomorrow’s potential programs and and services for the benefit of children, in today’s children youth. youth and their families. During the period under review, significant progress was made with the completion of a 3-year evaluation of Tools for Life®: Relationship-building Solutions (TFL). Results were distributed to key stakeholders and policy-makers. kidsLINK continued to collect data using standardized evaluation tools to improve its service offerings and decision-making.

agencies and university partners, is conducting a study on youth leaving residential treatment and how they have adapted in the community. With funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the study follows up with youth who are now over 18 years old, and document outcomes into young adulthood, differentiate coping strategies for youth doing well or not so well, and understanding the post treatment service needs for this group. kidsLINK gathered its information on organizational climate as a result of widespread adoption of traumainformed practices. Published results are expected to be available in early 2013.

If research is published, knowledge is gained. kidsLINK shares the knowledge obtained from its research findings. It Another important milestone was that School will be publishing new results on single Treatment Program clients and families completed surveys and participated in interviews designed to session therapy for walk-in counselling measure the impact of trauma-informed culture and practices in the service setting. This research services, which shows a significant conducted through a partnership between the relationship between client participation was University of Guelph - College of Social and Applied Human Sciences and kidsLINK. in work plan development and improvements in feelings of hope and efficacy over a given presenting problem. As invited guests, kidsLINK shared research with academic communities at Building on the completed and published research in Brock University, Wilfrid Laurier University, areas of self-harm and client outcomes, kidsLINK, in collaboration with other children’s mental health University of Western Ontario,

University of Waterloo, Trent University, and the University of Guelph. kidsLINK continues to build its research capacity with researchers and research institutions committed to advancing knowledge in the field and outcomes for children, youth and families in children’s mental health. It is collaborating with McMaster University, University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, University of Western Ontario, and Wilfrid Laurier University. Professional articles co-authored by kidsLINK appeared in the Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; the Journal of Child and Family Studies; and the forthcoming Open Access book, “Mental Health”.

kidsLINK continues to monitor and trace impacts of community-based programs on changes in levels of resilience in the clients served. Data collection and analysis is ongoing with exciting results yet to be published beyond internal reporting measures.

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Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Influencing Better Outcomes for Kids Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Heightening Awareness on Trauma-informed Service Systems Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth.

kidsLINK is leading the child and youth services sector in Canada in its trauma-informed practice. Few organizations or child and youth serving professionals and agencies are trauma-informed. Trauma is more common than what is realized, and when ignored, professionals can inadvertently make matters worse. In a system where all agencies, schools and professionals, as well as parents and caregivers, understand trauma, its impact and how to respond to it, they are less likely to further contribute to the trauma and will achieve more effective outcomes.

kidsLINK’s website was nominated “best of the web” for its trauma-informed resources by Multiplying Connections in the USA which is devoted to traumainformed Care. kidsLINK promoted the concept of a traumainformed service system of care to child and family service professionals, Waterloo Region agencies, planning groups and Children’s Mental Health

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Organization (CMHO) Board. The same message will be taken to elected officials and policy makers. Ground work was done in preparing for an invitational symposium for system leaders, scheduled for the end of May, 2012. kidsLINK plans to establish a web-based network for Canadian organizations interested in being trauma-informed.

Serving Aboriginal People and Communities kidsLINK organized the Aboriginal Mental Health Learning Experience for Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) Central West Region. More than 100 participants gained knowledge and skills specifically related to the delivery of mental health services to Aboriginal people. Participants also learned about the intergenerational impact of trauma upon Aboriginal people and communities. kidsLINK will be continuing this training with selfstudy programs and webinars. kidsLINK is being recognized for its interest and developing knowledge and relationships with Aboriginal people and communities. Tools for Life® and its wellness-based, trauma-informed approach have been endorsed by various Aboriginal practitioners as culturally suitable.

Tools for Life® (TFL) is Making a Difference in Classrooms Positive results were reflected in an independent three year research study of Tools for Life® Curriculum in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 classrooms in Waterloo Region.

TFL is a universal kidsLINK program that emphasizes communication and healthy relationship-building. It equips children with formative life skills such as listening, emotion regulation, decisionmaking and problem-solving. Funded by the Trillium Foundation of Ontario, this research study involved 26 schools across public and catholic school boards. The research provided evidence on the beneficial impact of TFL on managing classrooms, school environments, the effectiveness of the teacher, student social skills development and academic achievement. According to the research, teachers in TFL Curriculum classrooms have enjoyed managing their classrooms and students’ behaviour. Equally important, learning time is more productive. These

Photo: Patricia Ndebele 08/06/2012 12:44:28 PM

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Influencing Better Outcomes for Kids Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Developing tomorrow’s potential

in today’s children and youth schools have witnessed a decrease in peer conflict such as bullying.

Breakthrough accomplishments point to significant improvements of students’ effective use of: Developing tomorrow’s potential today’s children and youth. • inlistening skills • listening behaviour • recognition of feelings in self • recognition of feelings through body cues • calming down techniques • matching feelings with problems • relationship-solving tools In an effort to reach more children, youth and their families, kidsLINK is now developing a Grade 4-8 curriculum that focuses on self-regulation, empathy, decision-making to support resilience and overall wellness.

Resilience-building in Action By teaching children and youth how to handle their emotions and positively interact with others, kidsLINK is hoping to arm them with the Tools for Life® (TFL).

“kidsLINK believes in promoting wellness for kids and wellness is a process that incorporates mind, body and spirit,” says Debbie Engel, Manager of Early Intervention Services.

“We want children to know that they can be well and have choices in being well. TFL provides children and adults with the required tools. Through TFL, children become aware they can choose how to manage their emotions. They learn that through strategies like breathing, exercise or positive thinking, they are able to influence how they feel and cope with trauma and adversity,” Engel explains. “It’s a resilience-based tool. By being able to identify their own feelings, kids learn healthy ways to regulate their emotions. They also learn how to betterrespond to others,” Engel adds. “Research shows children who develop selfregulation skills have a much higher chance of living healthy lifestyles and developing a positive self-image by the time they are 30,” she notes. Lucia Hogeveen, a kindergarten teacher at Christ The King Catholic Elementary School in Cambridge, Ontario, sees first-hand the impact of using TFL methods and tools. “I began using the TFL program because I had so many children that were coming to school without many self-regulating skills,” Hogeveen says. “The program gives the children and I a common language and frame of reference to deal with the ups and downs of relationships within the classroom, and hopefully beyond to our families.”

Hogeveen says TFL “empowers the children” to deal with problems. The biggest impact of TFL comes from teaching children the power of words and the difference between using language that “puts up” or “puts down” themselves or their peers, she says. “Children see they have a choice in contributing to a positive environment in the class and for themselves.”

Best Results for Kids kidsLINK is pleased with the difference it made in the lives of children and youth this past year. Preschool Support Services (PSS) uses the Devereaux Early Childhood Assessment scale to measure change that has been achieved through participation with a preschool program.

The 88 consultations in 2011-12 resulted in parents and teachers reporting improvements in protective factors of children including children taking personal initiative and attachment. Significant decreases in children’s behavioural concerns were noticed by parents and teachers.

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Where the Money Came From

The extent of the challenges to mental wellness and strengths of children six years of age and older is assessed using the Brief Child and Family Phone Interview (BCFPI). In addition, clinical staff assess the child’s functional strengths and impairment through the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS). Together, these instruments provide information regarding the impact of service through the course of involvement at kidsLINK. The outcome data from BCFPI and CAFAS evaluations show that children and youth functioning at the conclusion of the program is improved. BCFPI data identify that overall, there are improvements in internalizing and externalizing problems. CAFAS scores indicate 71.8% of children improved by 20 points or more. The effect size of the work completed with these children, youth and families is evaluated to be “large” meaning it is an important factor associated with the changes that are seen.

Provincial Government 4,381,761 63.1% Regional Government 942,871 13.6% Fees for Service 1,239,222 17.8% Fundraising / Donations 112,589 1.6% Other Revenue 271,715 3.9% Total 6,948,158 100%

Children’s Mental Health Early Intervention Services Respite Services Other Programs

5,101,380 73.8% 1,255,598 18.2% 213,001 3.1% 341,605 4.9%


6,911,584 100.0%

Audit report is available upon request. Auditors: Graham Mathew Professional Corporation, Chartered Accountants.

Kids served*

Program/Services Child and Family Therapy School Treatment Program Residential Treatment Services Early Identification Early Intervention Waterloo Region’s finest restaurants and Chefs again treated Preschool Support Services more than 300 guests to mouth-watering dishes at the 13th Respite Services Annual Gourmet Trail. With the theme “Unwrapping the Front Door (Intake Services) Finer Things”, the event raised more than $40,000. Partners/Intensive Family Services Zero-2-Six Program (for children 0-6 in age) kidsLINK is grateful for the support it received from restaurants, sponsors and volunteers. As a result of this event, Mobile Crisis Response kidsLINK will be able to continue offering Family Support Comprehensive Residential Services and Respite Services. Encompass

13th Annual Gourmet Trail.... Good Food for a Good Cause

Where the Money Went

Professionals served 65 48 19 6,722 470 301 937 71 252 194 13 6

Workshops Workshop Participants PSS Webinars Tools for Life: Organizations Trained Tools for Life Webinars Tools for Life: Parent Workshops Trauma-informed Webinar

109 1,604 9 7 34 8 1

*In some cases children, youth, and families were served by more than one program.

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Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth

Our partnerships and alliances

Special thanks to our volunteers

kidsLINK works in collaboration with 100 organizations, community groups, government agencies, educational institutions, professional Developing tomorrow’s potential associations andandplanning bodies. in today’s children youth

Over the past year, kidsLINK has provided 132 opportunities for volunteers. Some of our volunteers have become long-term ones; others have made the transition to employee. We provided opportunities in Early Intervention Services, Respite, the School Treatment Program, Early Learning Childcare centres, I.T. and Marketing and Communications. Volunteers contributed 2,480 hours to our operations and children!

We work closely with: Lutherwood Developing tomorrow’s potential in today’s children and youth. Waterloo Catholic District School Board Waterloo Region District School Board Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County Wilfrid Laurier University Brock University University of Western Ontario University of Waterloo Trent University University of Guelph Fanshawe College Mohawk College Children’s Mental Health Ontario Family Service Canada Social Enterprise Alliance Social Enterprise Council of Canada

kidsLINK is grateful to our 2011-2012 funders and donors, especially: Government of Canada Province of Ontario Region of Waterloo Notre Dame Foundation (Burlington) Inc. Heffner Lexus Toyota Scion

Thank you to our kidsLINK volunteers for sharing your energy, enthusiasm and experience with the children, youth and families in our programs.

Engaging with our community At kidsLINK, we encourage, support and promote social responsibility as a means of affecting positive change and fostering social awareness and development. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with businesses, groups, clubs, organizations and interested individuals locally, nationally and internationally, to support and strengthen the communities where we live and work. For ideas on working together with kidsLINK, please visit us online at We welcome your suggestions and participation.

Head office 1855 Notre Dame Drive P.O. Box 190, St. Agatha, Ontario Canada N0B 2L0 Phone: 519-746-KIDS (5437) Fax: 519-746-3055 Email:

kidsLINK is the operating name of Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. © Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc., 2012. All rights reserved. kidsLINK and the kidsLINK logo are registered trademarks of Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc.

At kidsLINK, we’re not only committed to helping the children, youth and families we serve enjoy a healthier future, we’re also working towards a healthier future for our environment. To that end, this document is printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. FSC certification ensures that the paper in this document contains fibre from well-managed and responsibly-harvested forests that meet strict environmental standards. Want to help? You can assist us in our environmental efforts by requesting to receive future annual reports in electronic PDF format. To participate, simply email with your request. Annual Report 2011-2012.indd 16

ISBN No. 978-0-9881024-0-8 08/06/2012 12:44:29 PM

kidsLINK Annual Report 2010-2011  

kidsLINK Annual Report 2010-2011

kidsLINK Annual Report 2010-2011  

kidsLINK Annual Report 2010-2011