Celebrating the Launch of Engage!

Shortly after the new year began, all three sites began an intensive process of piloting different components of the Engage study. On January 14th, the Engage Toronto team conducted its first pilot, inviting three diverse gbMSM to Ryerson University to test the Engage questionnaire and walk through other key parts of the study visit, including informed consent and RDS recruitment training. Montreal and Vancouver have completed extensive piloting, including full study visits. Feedback from these events has been used to finalize the Engage questionnaire and other study tools, all of which have since been approved by ethics.

Following successful piloting, the study sites found exciting ways to raise awareness of the study in gbMSM communities. Immediately following their CEC meeting on January 30th, the Vancouver team hosted a launch party at the Momentum Office. It was a great time for everyone involved in the study to celebrate the success of Momentum I and the launch of Engage/Momentum II. In attendance were CEC members, BC Centre for Excellence staff, and Momentum Study staff.

Montreal opted for a “soft-launch”, having its first wave of Engage participants complete their visits starting February 7th. We’ve been very encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive comments we have received from participants, who appreciate the warm, welcoming, and friendly service they receive during their visit. It seems as if guys are already talking about Engage to their friends, and participants often arrive for their appointments with their 6 potential recruits already identified. We are going to keep finding ways to keep the hype-machine running in Montreal!

On February 9th, the Engage Toronto Launch Party took place at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. The event had an excellent turn-out with over 50 people in attendance throughout the night. Guests included team members and fellow investigators, service providers, CEC participants, and gbMSM community members and allies. Hosted by Engage Toronto Coordinator/drag queen, Ricky Rodrigues (AKA Salomé), the event was aimed at raising awareness about Engage to create excitement for the project among gbMSM and the people who work with them.

Gbolahan Olarewaju
May 12th, 2017