Who am I?
My name is Carver Manuel-Smith. I’m a young adult living in Toronto, Canada. I’m passionate about social work, activism, advocacy, and policy reform, especially when it concerns issues around sexual health and drug use. More specifically, I am an avid harm-reductionist. I work and volunteer with various organizations doing this type of work for a handful of years now work with the TRIP! Project.
What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction is a public health approach to education and service provision to people who partake in risks. So anyone really - life is full of risk! More specifically, harm reduction aims to reduce the risks sex and drugs may lead to by using non-judgemental education, peer-based support models, resiliancy-based support models (fancy word for meeting people where they're at), distribution of supplies, etc. etc. Harm reduction is a pragmatic approach to minimizing the rates of HIV and HepC transmission, overdose rates, and much much more. It is a philosophy rooted in the belief that we cannot eliminate the use of drugs and sex from our society, that some people always have and always will partake in these activities, that there is no shame in these activities, that abstinence doesn't work for and isn't ideal for everyone, and that the biggest risks related to drugs are the ways in which people use them and not the drugs themselves. It is a belief that drug use should be a social and a health issue and not a criminal justice one. The "War on Drugs" is a war on people! Some examples of harm reduction include needle exchanges, condom distribution, overdose prevention training including CPR and Naloxone administration, support groups, safer consumption services, substitution therapy and many more. Since harm reduction is still a controversial approach (although it is a PROVEN method!) here are some everyday examples of it that are mainstream and not stigmatized: seatbelts, helmets, protective gear in sports, don't drink and drive campaigns, nicotine substitution therapy, etc. ect. We can keep talking about harm reduction forever as this is what we are passionate about doing but for now we'll leave it at this. If you're not familiar with it we encourage you to learn more about this fascinating public health approach!
What is the TRIP! Project?
The TRIP! Project (www.tripproject.ca) is a youth-led safer nightlife initiative. It started out grassroots in 1995 and now runs out of the Central Toronto Community Health Centre. So what does this mean? TRIP! is peer-based and aims to reduce the harms of sex and drugs in various nightlife communities in Toronto. They provide education, outreach (they hand out everything from info cards to condoms, lube, straws for safer snorting, referrals to other services etc. etc.), social media, advocacy/activism and much more!
*We DO NOT represent the TRIP! Project for the purposes of this campaign. The above info aims to explain our background and why the Club Health 2013 conference is so important to us. The funds raised will be used to send us to the conference and NOT to the TRIP! Project*
What is Club Health 2013?
Club Health 2013 is a conference about harm reduction and safer nightlife aiming to connect researchers and service providers working in these and related fields!!!
"The objectives of Club Health 2013 include:
To develop understanding of the impacts of nightlife activity and the necessity for creating and maintaining safe nightlife environments
To facilitate the implementation of effective, evidence-based policies and approaches in nightlife environments
To improve knowledge about how nightlife behaviours and environments can be managed effectively
To promote multi-agency partnership working and networking at a local, national and international level"
(More info @ http://www.clubhealthsf2013.org)
Why I NEED YOUR SUPPORT?
I have submitted abstracts to speak at this conference and was accepted as a speaker! I’m sure that this will be a great opportunity to show others in the field (and related fields) what I’ve learned through our experience working on the frontline of the harm reduction and safer nightlife movements in Toronto. I am also are dying to learn what others can surely teach us at this conference so that we can bring this knowledge back home with us to better serve our communities! Unfortunately, my work cannot fund this endeavor as TRIP! is (under)funded as-is. I cannot afford these expenses either as I am underemployed, and struggling to pay rent and bills as it is. I am asking for your kind help and support: Please help fund my flights, conference registration fees, and accommodation fees to get from Toronto to San Francisco for the Club Health 2013 conference! <3
List of expenses:
Round-trip flights from Toronto to San Francisco (based on a brief Google search about $650 before taxes and service fees as of now, prices climbing each day)
Conference Registration ($350 USD with a potential discount if unable to fundraise sufficient funds)
Accommodation ($300 for a hostel. about $40-$50 a night)
Other expenses - food, and transit within San Francisco (likely able to cover out of pocket if necessary)