Creative minds + Innovation Funding = exciting development in children's
mental health

At-risk girls find ways to address their own needs

TORONTO, June 9 /CNW/ - At a community agency in central Toronto, Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten and young girls today launched a unique, web-based, self-care tool for managing girlhood stress, behaviour problems, depression and anxiety. The website was developed by Child Development Institute as part of its SNAP® Girls Connection program.

“The Ontario government wants to see every young woman reach her full potential,” said Minister Broten. “We all need help now and then. The How to Chill website is neat, interactive and provides them with healthy, empowering tools to become more resilient to life’s challenges.”

The SNAP® Girls Connection program at CDI has been operating for more than ten years, each year providing individual and group intervention to about 75 girls under age 12, and their families. “A large part of our work with girls deals with girlhood aggression and bullying,” says Tony Diniz, Executive Director. “Increasingly, we are seeing girls struggling with stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. helps girls develop the tools they need to manage some of those issues themselves. And of course, it enables us to serve an exponential number of girls who need that help.” The SNAP® (Stop Now and Plan) model was developed by CDI and is now being adapted and replicated in programs around the world, including in Ontario’s public school system. is CDI’s first web-based tool and is a response to the growing need for mental health services for children and youth. Among Ontario students from grades 7 to 12, one-third report psychological distress, with levels among girls twice as high as boys. Girls are also more likely to be bullied, with the most prevalent form being verbal or non-physical.

A special feature of the project was the involvement of a group of at-risk girls in the SNAP® Girls Connection program. They were involved in initial focus groups to plan the project, and throughout the development of the website

Also speaking at the launch today were Dr. Debra J. Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, York University, and a leading expert in girlhood aggression, Dr. Leena Augimeri, Director of Program Development and the Centre for Children Committing Offences at CDI, and Erin Rajca, Project Leader and SNAP® Girls Connection Manager.

Child Development Institute has more than ten locations in Toronto, providing programs for early learning, children’s mental health intervention, and services for children who have suffered family violence and sexual abuse. CDI serves more than 4,000 children each year in Toronto and its award-winning model programs are replicated across Canada and internationally. CDI’s research is leading new approaches to children’s development and well-being. For additional information, please visit href="">


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Media contact:

Nancy Bennett, Director of Development & Communications

(416) 603‐1827 x 2276 / cell (416) 435‐7918

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