As part of Manitoba Blue Cross' Colour of Caring Healthy CommUnity Challenge, Newcomers Employment & Education Development Services Inc. has received $25,000 for support.

The challenge was first announced in August, stating that the mental health initiative from local organizations with the most votes would receive monetary support from Manitoba Blue Cross.

Newcomers Employment & Education Development Services (N.E.E.D.S) Inc. submission, "Supporting Mental Wellness of Recently Arrived Refugees to Winnipeg," received the most votes for the challenge, winning the $25,000 donation.

"It is a great honour for the N.E.E.D.S. Centre to have received this monetary award and to be recognized in our community," says Margaret von Lau, CEO of N.E.E.D.S. Inc. "We are proud of the work we do and are very pleased to have this acknowledged through the Healthy CommUnity Challenge."

N.E.E.D.S. Inc. runs a free mental health promotion program for newcomer refugee youth and children to address the trauma they experience prior to arrival in Canada.

"We know that refugee youth and children arrive in Canada with complicated life experiences, including their own and their parents’ pre-migration experiences, war and conflict-related trauma, interrupted schooling, and family separation," says von Lau. "These experiences create several settlement-related challenges for them, such as challenges with integration into the Canadian school system and the labour market. This can lead to disengagement from school, poor school performance, conflict with parents/guardians, drug or alcohol use, risky sexual activity, and gang and criminal activity."

Thanks to the funding from Manitoba Blue Cross, N.E.E.D.S. Inc. will be able to hire a new additional part-time psychosocial educator to meet increased demand as many refugee children and youth have arrived recently from the war zones in Ukraine and Afghanistan.

"Congratulations to N.E.E.D.S. Inc. for their valuable submission that stood out to the judges and Manitobans," says Benjamin Graham, president and CEO of Manitoba Blue Cross. "But most of all, thank you to the team at N.E.E.D.S. for their incredible work supporting newcomers – especially those coming to Manitoba from conflict zones. It’s an honour to aid such important work and help them to build better stronger communities."

There were over 70 submissions for the Colour of Caring Healthy CommUnity Challenge, the finalists were determined by a panel of expert judges from Manitoba Blue Cross using certain criteria:

  • Does the idea support mental health in the community?
  • Does the idea support accessibility and culturally appropriate supports for the community?
  • Is the idea extremely useful to the community?
  • Are the articulated goals clearly defined, achievable and measurable?

All Manitobans had the opportunity to vote for which initiative was their favourite. Voting ended on November 2, and the results were announced on Wednesday, November 16.

"I’d like to thank everyone who submitted an initiative and voted in the Colour of Caring CommUnity Challenge. It’s clear that Manitobans care deeply and share our mission to improve mental health in our communities," says Graham.

For more information about N.E.E.D.S Inc., visit its website.

Visit the Manitoba Blue Cross website for more information about the Colour of Caring Healthy CommUnity Challenge.