H.E.A.T. Program

H.E.A.T. Program


The H.E.A.T. (Health Empowerment and Action Together) Program allows youth -ages 14 to 18- to gain skills and knowledge to make positive life choices around their health. The goal of the program is to prevent HIV, STIs and Hepatitis C among street-involved,  at-risk youth as well as rural Yukon youth, using a harm reduction approach.

This program is designed for youth ages 14-18 years, who also fit at least one of the following criteria:

  • Street-involved
  • Homeless or inadequately housed
  • Dealing with the criminal justice system and/or illicit drug use
  • Currently in care
  • OR living in a rural Yukon community

By adapting activities, the program can also be modified to meet the needs of other youth that are deemed to be at particularly high risk for HIV and STI infection. For example, this might involve changing role plays and scenarios to be applicable to a younger, less experienced group.


The program was built by Blood Ties Four Directions Centre around the Information – Motivation – Behavioural Skills (IMB) model, which focuses on the importance of providing not only information, but also increasing motivation to use the information as well as the behavioural skills necessary to do so.

Our program consists of 5 interactive 2 hour sessions (Whitehorse) or one 2-day weekend course (rural Yukon), where youth participate in interactive activities and skill-building games, in a safe and positive environment:

  1. Intro to STBBIs and Safer Sex
  2. Identifying values, making healthy decisions, and communicating them
  3. Prevention and Resources
  4. Dealing with Triggers and Slips
  5. Dealing with Harmful Thoughts, Wrap Up

Program Objectives

These sessions aim to achieve the goal of preventing HIV and STI infections in youth by providing the participants with:


  • Increasing knowledge of modes of STBBI transmission, and teaching its personal application
  • Increasing knowledge of methods to preventing STBBI transmission
  • Increasing knowledge of health services available to aid in prevention (accurate information, free condoms, clean drug use equipment, certified tattoo and piercing shops) and testing
  • Identifying personal values, limits and boundaries, as well as triggers for engaging in risky behaviours


  • Increase desire to protect one’s own health
  • Creating/Reinforcing positive attitudes regarding prevention methods
  • Increase awareness of peer support for prevention methods
  • Creating/Reinforcing support for peer prevention behaviours
  • Increase awareness of personal vulnerability to infection

Behavioural Skills:

  • Developing skill and perceived ability to correctly use an internal and external condom
  • Developing skill and perceived ability to access condoms
  • Developing assertive communication and problem solving skills
  • Developing skill and perceived ability to negotiate condom use before and during sexual activity
  • Developing skill and perceived ability to enforce personal values, limits and boundaries
  • Developing skill and perceived ability to access STBBI testing
  • Developing skill and perceived ability to negotiate not sharing drug using equipment
  • Developing skill and perceived ability to access clean drug use equipment
  • Developing skill and perceived ability to deal with triggers, slips, strong emotions and stress in a positive way

Resiliency Assets:

  • Enhancing affective and cognitive awareness, expression and control
  • Developing positive relationships with other youth
  • Developing social support system for encouraging healthy behaviours
  • Increasing self-esteem (through skill development, learning positive coping mechanisms)


Comments from past participants in the H.E.A.T. Program :

“I learned lots and it’s fun so it sticks in my mind better.”

“[I will remember] the fun times laughing and the good and useful things I’ve learned.”



For more information on the program in Whitehorse, please contact :

Brontë Renwick-Shields, Health Education Coordinator



Information on the program in rural Yukon communities, please contact:

Alyssa Carpenter, Rural Partnership Coordinator





“The H.E.A.T. Program is supported by a POSITIVE ACTION community grant from ViiV Healthcare. The views expressed herein by Blood Ties Four Directions Centre associated with the program are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of ViiV Healthcare ULC.”