The Brighter Futures program is a community-based health promotion and ill-health prevention program for First Nations and Inuit communities. The program typically, promotes health and prevents ill-health through learning-related activities that strive to increase awareness, change attitudes, build knowledge and enhance skills.
The program is made up of five components-mental health, child development, parenting, healthy babies and injury prevention. First Nations and Inuit communities have the flexibility to determine which program component(s) to provide community-based programs, services and/or activities in.
- Mental Health The goal of this component is to promote the development of healthy communities through community-based mental health programs, services and/or activities. Information and awareness activities on a variety of topics (ex.: depression, family violence and stress management), counselling services and wellness activities (ex.: a course in traditional shawl making and recreational activities) are some of the ways communities have promoted the health of their community.
- Child Development This component aims to ensure that children receive the nurturing they need to reach their full potential. A wide variety of community-based programs and activities have been funded under this component, such as school breakfast programs, a math learning program, a parent-child crafts program, after-school programs (ex.: a drama club and a computer club), school-based “Stop Bullying” sessions, cultural heritage activities (ex.: teaching of traditional throat singing) and toy lending libraries.
- Parenting The aim of this component is to promote culturally-sensitive parenting skills. A variety of activities have been funded through this component and include parenting workshops, parenting training programs (for example, the “Nobody’s Perfect” parenting program) and a support group for parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
- Healthy Babies To improve the health and well-being of mothers and babies is the aim of this component. A variety of activities are eligible for funding, such as pre- and post-pregnancy services and pregnancy-related education. For instance, education about breastfeeding, the importance of healthy eating, regular medical examinations and the avoidance of drugs, alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy are all examples of pregnancy-related education activities.
- Injury Prevention As the title suggests, the goal of this component is to prevent injuries. Examples of activities funded include first-aid and CPR training, water, fire and bicycle safety workshops, awareness campaigns and promotion of the use of seat belts and car seats.
The Brighter Futures program is guided by the following principles:
- A holistic approach is essential to support First Nations and Inuit individuals, families and communities;
- A holistic approach is best achieved when the five components of the program-mental health, child development, parenting, healthy babies and injury prevention-are coordinated and linked with each other, as well as with other programs and services;
- Including community members in the design of a program increases the likelihood of meeting the community’s needs;
- Program designs that are community-based are more likely to meet the needs of the community;
- Program design should occur at a pace determined by the community; and
- A more comprehensive health program is achieved when a continuum of programs and services are offered, from health promotion and ill-health prevention to intervention and rehabilitation.