The Values, Influences, Peers (VIP) program is based on the idea that by sharing their life stories and experiences residents can positively influence youth. For over 30 years, Harvest House residents and graduates have gone into elementary, secondary, and alternative schools in the Ottawa area to tell their life stories. The current program reaches an average of 2,500 students every year. The goal of these presentations is for residents to speak about the consequences of their choices and the impacts of addiction. By sharing openly about their experiences and providing students with the opportunity to ask questions, residents inform students about the consequences of drug and alcohol use and, in some cases, help students better understand how addiction may be impacting their own lives directly or indirectly. Through participation in the VIP program, Harvest House residents develop public speaking skills, give back to the community in a meaningful way, and learn to view their past experiences as an opportunity to help others, rather than as a source of shame. Over the years, the VIP program has demonstrated the powerful impact that residents can have by sharing their experiences.
Students say: “I really learned a lot from your life stories and I will for sure take them to heart for the rest of my life.”
Teachers say: Harvest House presenters do “a great job of opening up dialogue that is sorely needed in schools and society in general […] students were engaged, and were thinking about the paths they may be going down.”