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Giving Ontario youth a Fresh Start

On the evening of June 8th, 190 guests gathered for the 4th annual Fresh Start Dinner & Auction in the lush Rosedale garden of Dr. Peter and Mrs. Susan Schaal to raise awareness and funds in support of the Portage Ontario Youth Treatment Fund. The fund provides access to the Portage Elora treatment centre for youth. Through incredibly generous donations and the purchase of auction items, the event successfully raised over $110,000. This total far surpasses Portage Ontario’s goal of $85,000.  This amount will give an extra ten Ontario youth the chance to change their lives at Portage this year.

Read more…

Portage Elora residents, graduates, staff, and Ontario Board Members speak about how Portage helps Ontario youth seek Freedom from Addiction.

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To watch the video, click here

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 “There I was, in the hospital, too emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically drained to do anything.  I was desperate for a solution out of the mess I dug myself into – and that’s when I heard about Portage.  They were amazing with their accommodations to get me in as soon as possible, and throughout my whole program, they did everything they could to help me learn the therapeutic tools of recovery.  The treatment was simple enough that I could understand it and apply it to everyday living. I have never felt so cared about before in my life.  These people were complete strangers to me, but they treated me like family. Because of Portage, I’m alive today.”

– Sarah, Portage Elora graduate, speaking at the Fresh Start Event

on the lookout for
mental health issues

Most Portage residents have had a complicated background of trauma, family dysfunction, and chaos – all factors that can lead to mental health problems, says Liz Graham, a nurse and the Coordinator of Health Services at Portage Elora. Staff are therefore constantly on the lookout for signs and symptoms of concurrent disorders of addiction and mental health issues.

All residents undergo comprehensive mental health assessments when they arrive at Portage and throughout their rehabilitation process by the nurses on staff and by the consulting psychiatrist.  Through the BECK Depression Inventory Scale and the Crisis Intervention Assessment, residents answer a series of questions about altered mood, perceptual disturbances, hallucinations, and so on.  Memory is also tested to see if the illicit drugs that the resident was taking have had any effect on memory function.

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Residents having fun working the property

Portage ON Newsletter_Tree planting.jpgPortage Elora’s beautiful 55 acre-property is therapeutic in itself, providing residents with a peaceful country setting in which to undergo their drug addiction rehabilitation therapy.

Through the sociocultural and recreational programming offered at Portage, residents not only get to enjoy the property as a playground for hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and playing outdoor team sports, but they also get to contribute to keeping the grounds in good shape.

In the month of May, they planted 100 trees on the property, which were donated to Portage by the Green Legacy Program.  They also planted all the flower beds and recently made a vegetable garden, something the facility has not had in a few years.  The residents are trying to grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis and watermelons.

Read more…

Portage across Canada
The Accreditation Canada visit

 News_Accreditation2.jpg All Portage centres participating
in the accreditation process had their Accreditation Canada visit
during the week of June 7-11.  Each of these centres had received the
Accreditation Primer in 2008 and 2009.  The purpose of this year’s visit
was to complete the accreditation process, demonstrating the continuous
improvement of the quality of Portage’s services, the competency of the
staff members, and the expertise of the organisation.

At the end of the week, the Accreditation Canada
surveyors expressed how delighted they were to have visited Portage,
thanking the staff members for their warm welcome and their patience.
They noted the flexibility and adaptability of the organisation and the
very high quality of services and care offered to residents.  The
surveyors were struck by the devotion, passion, and creativity of
Portage staff members and praised Portage’s continuing efforts to
improve practices and measures to ensure the safety of residents.  They
were especially impressed by Portage’s focus on residents and their
families, enthusiastically highlighting the Recognition Ceremonies, the
official recognition of each resident who completes the Portage program.

Accreditation Canada’s Board of Directors will be
making their official decision about Portage’s accreditation in the
coming days.  Portage is pleased to have participated in this process
and is committed to maintaining all the improvements that have been
made, while continuously bettering its service offering.

Portage across Canada
GAIN training

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At the end of April, a group of Portage staff members attended a training session on the GAIN questionnaire (Global Appraisal of Individual Needs) at the Chestnut Health Systems facility in Illinois.  Portage is currently preparing to shift to the GAIN system to assess new residents at the admission phase.

Established in 1993, the GAIN has received widespread recognition as an evidence-based assessment technique for both adults and adolescents.  It is a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment tool that supports a number of treatment practices, including initial screenings, brief interventions, referrals, standardised clinical assessments for diagnosis, placement and treatment planning, monitoring of changes in clinical status, service utilisation, costs to society, and subgroup and program-level needs assessment and evaluation.

About Portage

Portage is a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping people who are suffering from substance abuse-related problems to overcome their dependencies and to live healthy, happy and productive lives. Portage is a vital and progressive force in the drug addiction treatment field in North America, with service centres in Québec, New Brunswick, Ontario, and British Columbia. Through drug addiction treatment best practices and the therapeutic community approach, Portage helps residents develop their self-esteem, confidence, and the competencies necessary to overcome addiction.

Portage has been operating drug rehabilitation centres in Canada for over 35 years. Portage Ontario was established in 1985.

Read more about Portage’s mission, vision, and values.


Learn to run program
A new running program, created in March for the girls at Portage Elora, has been very well received.  They meet up twice a week, working up to a continuous five kilometer run.  The participants set personal goals each time but always run in a pack on the country trails, learning to work as a team and that the group is only as fast as its slowest runner.

Residents build a low ropes course
Todd Willoughby and his Outdoor Education class at Portage Elora have been working on designing and creating a low ropes course.  Once completed, the course will be used to help residents develop problem-solving skills, group cohesion, and leadership skills.

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Volunteering at a local Elora book sale

Portage Elora residents volunteered at the Elora Festival and Singers book sale at the end of April, as they have for the past number of years.  Their help was greatly appreciated.

Learning how to upcycle
Portage Elora residents learned the benefits of re-using through an upcycle workshop. The girls turned old, no longer “fashionable” sweaters into funky leg warmers.

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For admissions information please contact our centre in Elora, Ontario:
Tel. 519-846-0945
Fax 519-846-5703

For the Portage Ontario Board, Campaign, and volunteer activities, please contact:

Jennifer Blunt
Director of Development, Portage Ontario


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