An intervention from Down Under
CORE Connections, as a whole school intervention, was originally designed and evaluated in Australia (where it is called the Gatehouse Project). It had a huge and unprecedented effect on risk behaviours of early adolescents: 25% reductions in things like alcohol use, drug use and smoking. Moreover, this was achieved without having any focus on these factors at all,  i.e., no lectures about smoking in the health class, no guests coming in to the school to talk about drugs. Nothing. 
The entire focus was on helping students feel more safe, valued and connected at school. Students were given opportunities and encouraged to actively participate in the school community, becoming involved in decision-making, activities and events. Recognizing and handling emotions and dealing respectfully with others became an embedded curriculum emphasis in English and other subjects, rather than all of this being delegated to the traditional “health” classes.
Adapting CORE for Alberta
We adapted the Australian approach to the Alberta context by replicating it in a rural high school from 2002 to 2004. Here, we added a teacher/workplace component and a stronger community focus. We further developed our understanding of the intervention in younger children with four elementary schools and one junior high school within the Calgary Board of Education from 2004 to 2008 
We have now teamed up with Calgary Catholic School District to take CORE Connections to the next level and test it over a three year period, comparing the results of schools that get CORE Connections with comparison schools that do not. This started in November 2010, supported by a Public Health Agency of Canada grant and with support from private donors. Comparing schools with and without the program is the only way to get strong, unequivocal evidence about CORE’s effects. Armed with these findings, we will be able to advocate for CORE Connections to become an integral part of the work of all schools.
During the last two years we have also been researching best ways to adapt CORE to multicultural contexts. We have been working with local communities on ways to make schools in ethnically and linguistically diverse neighbourhoods more welcoming for children and families.