Project History

It all started when Sergeant Bill Cowper ("Sergeant Internet") of the Halifax Regional Police began looking for a way to involve police officers in the classroom in order to bridge the gap between the police and adolescents. He went to his trusty Web browser and conducted a global search of violence-prevention education materials. Amazing as it may seem, Bill was most impressed with a program that had been developed by Men For Change right here in Halifax: Healthy Relationships: A Violence-Prevention Curriculum.

Sergeant Internet
Sergeant Bill Cowper, Halifax Regional Police

At the Atlantic Crime Prevention Conference in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in the Spring of 1997, Bill met Andrew Safer, a co-developer and author of this program. That conversation began the germination process that led to the launch of this pilot project a year and a half later.

Andrew Safer speaking at the project training session at
Cole Harbour District High School, September 21-22, 1998

When Bill told Jane Thornley about the idea, Jane was enthusiastic and her commitment has driven the project forward ever since. As Director of Research and Technology at the Halifax Regional School Board, Jane and her staff are working to ensure that all students can benefit from modern communications technologies. This project demonstrates that a leading-edge, locally-developed curriculum can be enhanced by extending its reach outside the classroom via an Internet discussion forum. David DeVan, the School Board's Facilitator of Staff Development and Technological Innovation, has also been instrumental in moving our project towards the starting gate by applying his administrative and organizational skills.

Since many of the schools in the Halifax Regional School Board are located outside the Halifax Regional Police's jurisdiction, three RCMP detachments have also come onboard: Cole Harbour, Sheet Harbour and Tantallon. Since the RCMP school liaison officers at these detachments are already proactive in the way they relate to students, they will enhance the project through both their experience and their commitment.

Training co-facilitator Roger Davies (centre) of Men For Change speaks with
Personal Development & Relationships Teacher Rose Carter of Bicentennial School, Dartmouth

In order to gauge the success of the pilot—in terms of the Internet component, police-student relations, and student learning in the area of violence-prevention—we have contracted Ray Carlson, PhD to oversee an evaluation. Ray is an evaluation consultant and a professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University.

Finally, it's only fitting that EDnet is supporting the Internet side of this project. Administered by the Department of Education and Culture and MT&T, EDnet is a Wide Area Network that provides educational and cultural organizations with cost-effective data communications. This includes connection to the Internet, Distance Education, and administrative computer applications.

For this project, EDnet: is facilitating the programming required to enable the discussion groups, enabling security through password protection, and facilitating project communications via a listserv.

Cst. Shaun P. Smith, School Liaison Officer, Tantallon RCMP,
and Career & Life Management Teacher Michael Oddy discuss the project.

Project Partners | The Curriculum

Digital Photos courtesy: Sgt. William Cowper, Halifax Regional Police

Copyright © Men For Change, The Online Healthy Relationships Project, 1998