At-risk youth to get help

Red Deer will lead the way with a three-year, $1.3-million pilot project to reach youth at risk of getting involved in crime in Alberta.

Red Deer will lead the way with a three-year, $1.3-million pilot project to reach youth at risk of getting involved in crime in Alberta.

Power Youth Initiative, a partnership made up of several community organizations, will provide youth access to wellness, mentoring and extra-curricular activities.

A location for the one-stop service site has not yet been announced, but is expected to open in early August. The majority of services will be providesd between 3 and 9 p.m., along with some weekend programs.

“There’s a lot of people who end up in the justice system because they’ve made some choices in their life, maybe because they didn’t have opportunities or options ahead of them. They might not have had mentors,” said Minister of Justice Alison Redford at the announcement of the provincially-funded project, held at the Capri Hotel on Monday.

“We want to give them choices and options much earlier in their life.”

Power Youth Initiative will be led by Parkland Youth Homes in partnership with the City of Red Deer Social Planning; Career Assistance Network; Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority; Employment Placement and Support Services; Secure Consulting Services; Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools; and Teen and Young Adult Sexual Health.

Parkland executive director Robecca Chahine said youth were the ones who requested the single location. It will be convenient and will cut down on the intimidation factor of seeking services in different buildings.

“We don’t have a project like this in Red Deer. Some of the larger centres in the country do so we’re really excited that we’ll be able to provide that to Red Deer because there’s a need,” Chahine said.

“Sometimes I think people are under the misconception that in smaller centres there’s less problems and issues to deal with and that’s not the case.”

The site will not be a drop-in centre, but will co-ordinate access to programming in the “critical hours” after school and before parents get home, she said.

Red Deer Catholic schools will allow Power Youth Initiative to use some of their gymnasiums for recreational programs. Police officers will run a mentoring program.

“We’re taking almost the best that everyone has to offer and bringing it all together,” Chahine said.

The $1.3 million in funding came from the province’s Safe Communities Innovation Fund.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com