By Amanda Lorbetski
The Red Cards are rolling out at Loyalist College, but few students are taking notice.
These free pocket-sized pamphlets summarize local support services for youth ages 12 to 19. The cards, which cover five geographical regions, are distributed to institutions across Quinte.
This joint initiative between the Hastings and Prince Edward Children and Youth Services Network and the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board began in 2008.
Students say the college is marketing on-campus services, but not the community ones listed on the Red Card.
Karin Johansen, a third-year accounting student, said she has used local education and medical services before without the Red Card.
“I’ve lived in Belleville my whole life and I’ve never heard of the Red Card at all,” said Johansen.
Second-year paralegal student Stephanie Leale said the Red Card’s marketing plan is in the red.
“Well, considering I haven’t seen (the cards) before, I don’t know how good they’re doing with marketing them,” she said.
Wendy Anderson, coordinator of the Hastings and Prince Edward Children and Youth Services Network, said the card gives youth a quick reference to community services.
“Whether you need help finding a job, financial assistance, health advice or support services, the Red Card will provide you with the number to call in your community,” she said in a written statement.
Adam Gosney, coordinator of counselling services at Loyalist College, said staff support the idea of the cards, but don’t promote them.
They’re on the table, with the majority of students grabbing one during appointments, he added.
“I find more so those who live in the community (take a card) versus residence students,” said Gosney. “Residence students tend to turn towards on-campus supports more than they would towards community supports.”
He said students seek local food banks most often, usually due to OSAP funding running out at the end of each semester.
Stressed students can refer locally to the Red Card or now regionally to Good2Talk, the provincial government’s extension of Kids Help Phone, unveiled Friday.
Although this student helpline isn’t an on-campus service, Leale said it’s something Loyalist College should be promoting.
“That’s a great program to have,” she said. “That’s good to know and I don’t know if that’s on (the college’s) website but that would be a good thing to promote more ‘cause definitely, school’s stressful.”
This is Mental Health Awareness Week in Belleville.