Below is a brief synopsis of each project we have worked on since we began in 2011. You can also download a PDF of these descriptions.
- VLT Free Zones
- Reducing Dependency on VLT Revenues
- Building Community Readiness to Reduce Gambling Harms
- Cobequid Youth Action on Gambling Video Project (We partnered with a project of the Cobequid Community Health Board, 2013)
Kings County VLT Free Zones Project – Fall 2012 / Winter 2013
One of the missions of KCAGoG (see our Vision page for info) is to assist local businesses and organizations to reduce their dependence of gambling revenues. We believe that the most serious harms from gambling in Kings County occur from the use of VLT machines, often called the “crack cocaine of gambling” because of how easy it is to become dependent on them.
We are NOT an anti-gambling organization. We want to reduce the problems that gambling causes to our community. We seek to work in conjunction with local business, local organizations and local government to raise awareness of the harms of VLT machines and to help move them towards alternate business plans and revenue streams that are not harmful to their customers, their members, their citizens. We see ourselves as partners and allies to all three groups, not as adversaries.
We have a strong board with a variety of skills, training and interests. This includes an addictions instructor from NSCC, an addictions therapist from AVDHA, a community policing officer, the coordinator of the seniors safety program, a local business owner, a staff member of Canadian Mental Health Association and an instructor who teaches Community Psychology at MSVU.
Our goal is to create a VLT Free Zone campaign modeled after the successful project led by Game Over VLTs in Halifax, but with a focus on building partnerships. We will celebrate and publicize businesses and organizations that maintain a VLT Free policy. We will hold public meetings and distribute easily understandable information as to why VLTs are bad for business and bad for society. We will share examples of successful businesses that avoid the use of dangerous products. We hope to create a dialogue in the business community towards creative new business plans, and awareness in the local citizens about the potential harms of VLTs. We will encourage them to patronize establishments that display our VLT Free Zone stickers on their windows.
On April 3rd, 2013 KCAGoG received a Wellness Intitiative Fund (WIF) grant from Eastern Kings, Western Kings and Kingston/Greenwood Community Health Boards for the following project:
Reducing Dependency on VLT Revenues (2013-2014)
In our previous WIF grant (2012) we focused on beginning a campaign to raise awareness of the presence of VLTs in our county. Rather than taking a negative approach, we chose to highlight businesses that have elected not to use VLTs as part of their business strategy. This is for several reasons:
- We want to keep a positive and constructive atmosphere.
- We want to make a VLT-Free model more commercially viable by encouraging citizens to support such businesses. And
- It demonstrates in a very visible and practical manner that these dangerous machines are not needed for a business to make a healthy profit.
The logical continuation of this project is to begin to create awareness in the business community of the problems that these machines create, and of the other viable options that they have at their disposal. This will dovetail nicely with our ongoing work of raising the awareness of the local citizenry and encouraging them to spend their time and money on more healthy activities.
KCAGoG does not have expertise “in-house” to make this case to the business community, so we partnered with the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre (AEC, formerly ACSBE), who have many years of experience advising local business. AEC’s role was to develop and present a one-half day workshop for interested persons on possible benefits of transitioning away from VLT revenue. AEC did not give specific business advice, or provide any services to business under this project, but businesses are of course be free to contract with AEC later for consultation specific to their needs should they so desire. This gives a practical way forward for those inspired by the workshop. In this way we see ourselves as allies to business rather than adversaries, as some groups have been perceived to be in the past. See http://kcagog.ca/resources/tools-for-business to download the workbook and PowerPoint presentation with voiceover.
The combination of KCAGoG’s ongoing work in the wider community and AEC’s focus on raising awareness in the business community created a strong foundation to move Kings County towards readiness to change our approach to VLTs. We can move towards a healthier community by slowly reducing the number of machines in our community as individuals choose to put their money elsewhere, and businesses choose more creative and healthy business plans.
Building Community Readiness to Reduce Gambling Harms (2014-2015)
KCAGoG proposed to work directly with the towns of Wolfville, Kentville, Berwick and the villages of Kingston and Greenwood to promote each community’s readiness and capacity to develop actions to decrease gambling harm. We used the Community Readiness model developed by the Tri-Ethnic Center of Colorado State University (see details online) to assess the stage of readiness of each community and develop specific actions appropriate to the stage each community finds itself in.
This model for community change integrates a community’s culture, resources and level of readiness to more effectively address specific issues. It allows communities to define issues and strategies in their own context, builds cooperation among systems and individuals and increases a community’s capacity for action. It is premised on the assumption that strategies to engage a community to effect change must be matched to the community’s level of readiness. The Community Readiness Model offers tools to measure readiness and to develop stage appropriate strategies.
It has become increasingly clear to us that there is great variability across the county in the readiness of the individual towns and villages to take actions to reduce the community harms of gambling. The towns of Wolfville, Kentville and Berwick and the villages of Kingston and Greenwood each have unique cultures, their own strengths, their own community leaders and municipal structures. However, our initial assessment showed a general level across the county of “vague awareness” about the issues, so we have developed an educational programme we call “Know the Facts” to help spread information about the problems that gambling creates for our communities. The rack card images shown here are part of that campaign. We are presenting to a wide variety of community groups and organizations across the county to develop awareness. If you are interested in having us speak to your group, please contact us!
With the completion of the assessment process and in consultation with Horizons Development Associates and community members, strategies for each town and village will be developed that are appropriate to their stage of readiness (see model for general strategies appropriate for each stage). The decision as to the specific strategies used and the avenues chosen will be based on the fundamental principle that community change is, and should be, in the hands of the community.
An evaluation of the project upon completion will determine how effectively we have engaged our communities to increase their capacity to take action to reduce gambling harms. This information will inform KCAGoG’s continued involvement with community leaders as they move their communities towards taking actions which will reduce gambling harms.