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Grant-funded life skills program counters youth crime

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July 21, 2016 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - Assertiveness, boundary-setting, problem-solving and conflict resolution are among the life skills covered by an innovative program for Central Okanagan youth at risk of criminal involvement, developed locally with funding from provincial Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) proceeds.

This year's $100,000 CFO grant will enable the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs (OBGC) Downtown Youth Centre to continue New Horizons for Youth, a program first supported with a $20,000 grant in 2015. It provides a structured, high-quality approach developed for, and in consultation with, local young people, aged 14 to 18. Curriculum development is ongoing in consultation with youth members, 94 of whom have participated to date.

New Horizons covers healthy attitudes and coping skills to bolster participants' resilience in the face of negative peer pressure. Four broad modules address:

* Mental health and wellness.

* Sexual health and healthy relationships.

* Self-care, goal-setting and financial planning.

* Effective verbal and non-verbal communication.

These modules are tailored to suit different learning styles - with active, reflective, visual and auditory components - and structured so they can be taught in groups or one-on-one, to best fit individual learner's needs. The program also includes social and recreational activities like art, swimming, dance class, yoga, workouts and sports. OBGC has noted the grant it received in March 2015 has allowed it to dedicate a staff member to the development of this high-quality curriculum.


Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General -

"Local organizations like the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club play a crucial part of front-line work by reaching young people where they live and steering them away from potential involvement in crime and gang activity. This year, we've dedicated nearly $2 million in civil forfeiture proceeds to dozens of gang and youth crime prevention projects like this
throughout the province  - offering critical early intervention to support safer, stronger communities and the Province's broader Guns and Gangs strategy."

Steve Thomson, MLA Kelowna-Mission -

"It's great to see the good work being done by the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club with support from civil forfeiture proceeds. The New Horizons program works directly with young people in our region, providing them with ideas, options and opportunities, so they can make healthy lifestyle choices for themselves. We all know how important it is to develop healthy attitudes at an early age. Strong young people who make the right life decisions will help support our community."

Sarah MacKinnon, centre director, Downtown Youth Centre, OBGC -

"The grant allowed us to dedicate a staff member to consult our young clients and develop responsive life-skills programming of exceptional quality. To date, New Horizons teaches communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution and various soft skills, building a foundation for young participants to make strong choices and meet their own needs,
without resorting to crime. The flexibility of the program and its respect for different learning styles benefits both learners and teachers, as the latter face fewer barriers now in conveying information and ensuring the youth 'get it'. We will continue building our curriculum and using it in our programs. In this way, the civil forfeiture grant helped us introduce a sustainable intervention in youth criminal behavior."

Quick Facts:

* OBGC is among dozens of organizations throughout B.C. that received grants from civil forfeiture proceeds in 2014-15 for projects and programs to further community and youth crime prevention.

* Since it was established a decade ago, B.C.'s civil forfeiture program has returned $27 million to crime prevention and community safety programs, including $1.5 million in victims' compensation.

News from © iNFOnews, 2016

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