Calgary Police Foundation
Our Story Why We Exist
He’s a young man who was headed straight for gang life, but a unique program has kept him out of jail—and turned him into a dedicated student and athlete. Phil Watt didn’t start off on the right track.
“I remember taking my first lollipop from the store when I was not even in school,” the 17-year-old remembers. “If you told me not to do something, I wanted to do it that much more.”
His father was involved with drugs and had gang affiliations in Calgary—meaning his mother was left to raise him on her own. Watt started sneaking out and failing school.
“Every day I got a call - they had me on speed dial,” his mother Kristen Luu says. “Stealing people’s lunches, getting in fights with kids…grounding him didn’t work, taking away privileges didn’t work, he would just defy me.”
At age 12, Watt was caught shoplifting at Chinook Centre, and police concluded he was a high risk to become a gang member. But instead of sending him through the court system, they paired him up with the Calgary Police Youth at Risk Development Program (YARD). Cst. Al Devolin spent time with Watt, got him and his mother into counselling and set him up with a tutor. Not only did Watt’s grades shoot way up, but he’s become an accomplished track-and-field athlete. He also has a new outlook.
“I was so blinded by ‘I am the ruler, the world revolves around me.’ I look back and go wow, I was egotistic.”
Devolin says that early intervention is important.
“The earlier you get to the young guy in the family, the easier it is to turn things around,” he explains. “This is the gold standard. This is what we would like for all of our families and kids to achieve. That’s the hope.”
Watt says all that he has achieved so far is just the beginning.
“I know exactly where I should be and where I could go. I would rather be on the side where people respect me.”
According to his mother, as of 2015, Phil is on the Dean’s list in Chemical Engineering with a super high GPA.
Story written by Nancy Hixt, Global TV Calgary
Our Impact What We Do
OUR PURPOSE: Safe kids, safe families, safe Calgary.
OUR MANDATE: The Calgary Police Foundation is an independent entity that partners exclusively with the Calgary Police Service. Together we support carefully selected community initiatives to prevent children and youth from victimization and engaging in criminal activity. This is achieved by focusing on education, early intervention and prevention programs which are not funded by traditional government sources.
OUR PROMISE: Committed to keeping children safe and strong.
Calgary Police Foundation funded programs help ensure Calgary is a safe place to live and raise our families.
These programs help to prevent crime, keep youth safe, and bring education to everyone in the family. Without you, there are no programs. Without programs, children will lose their way who otherwise would be helped when they need it the most.
It is imperative that our programs continue to operate! The following is a message from a participant in one of our programs:
- "…I didn’t know how to stand up for myself before when I first got bullied. Thanks to you, I know I could’ve stood up for myself instead of crying…” - Grade 6 student after attending YouthLink
The Calgary Police Foundation is critical support for our youth. It funds programs which impact the lives of countless boys and girls in Calgary. These programs have shown exceptional results – improving academic scores, reducing anti-social behavior, preventing crime, strengthening families, and increasing awareness of key issues like bullying, gangs, online safety, healthy relationships, and substance abuse.
Highlights of our success to date include funding the $8M capital campaign of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, now operating as its own entity. YouthLink opened its doors on September 28, 2015 after a two year $5M capital campaign. In four months, we have seen thousands of guests come through the doors. The Encana Crime Labs; The SHAW Centre for Digital Wellness and Leadership, Enbridge Healthy Relationships, plus our Gangs, Drugs, and Bullying interactive galleries provide immersive experiences unlike any other in North America. Our YARD (Youth at Risk Development Program for ages 10 to 17), MASST (Multi-Agency School Support Team for ages 5 to 12) and ISSP (Integrated School Support Project) programs have tremendous impact at select Calgary schools. The Power Play and Calgary Police Cadet Corps programs continue to grow.
Our Programs How We Do It
The Calgary Police Foundation funds 6 dynamic programs impacting tens of thousands of children:
- YouthLink opened its new world-class, interactive learning centre, which guides young people through an immersive educational experience, teaching important lessons about drugs, gangs, bullying, healthy relationships and cyber safety. In its first 3 months of operation in 2015, YouthLink doubled the capacity from its previous centre, and continues to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, teachers, parents, and the public.
- An intensive school-based program for communities in Calgary where more young people are at risk, ISSP has been successful in changing attitudes towards police, reducing high-risk behaviours, and helping students thrive. In 2015, it finished year one of a 2 year pilot project which saw improved academic scores, increased positive awareness of police, and a decrease in aggressive behaviours.
- An early-intervention initiative, MAAST supports children five to 12 years of age who are exhibiting behavior that puts them at risk. Children and their families work closely with teams of professionals, often for extended periods.
- Reducing gang activity is a priority for the Calgary Police Foundation. For young people who are affiliated with gangs or at risk of gang involvement, YARD offers an escape to a healthier, safer, more productive life.
- A youth program based on the Canadian military cadet programs, the Cadet Corps which fosters leadership abilities, cultural tolerance and career development. In 2015, this program saw an increased number of young people develop important social, academic and physical skills
6. Power Play
- A free, weekly, drop-in hockey program, Power Play engages youth ages six to 17, and their families. In diverse and marginalized Calgary communities, the program helps foster trust and understanding between youth and police. In 2015, it began expanding the program because of community need.
Our Requests What You Can Do
“...and she started crying. Because she realized that it was the (CPF program) person’s words that caused her to reach out and ask for help. Because this person provided her with courage to talk about what she has been through and because this person saved her life…” Quote from the aunt of a Grade 6 student who attended YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre.
The Calgary Police Foundation’s priority is prevention, intervention and education to provide a safer tomorrow.
- Hearing the words gangs, bullying and drugs is dreadful. Imagine a child living in an environment where they are exposed to these daily. They need help. Through the generosity from our donors, we are able to give a greater sense of confidence to our children and teenagers to make good decisions while being tempted or during difficult times. Saving lives from a lifetime of pain and hurt is what we do.
At the Calgary Police Foundation, an incredible 95 cents on the dollar raised goes directly to our programs! Support to us is support to countless youth right here in Calgary.
The gift of empowerment is an incredible one and donors to the Calgary Police Foundation make it possible to provide. As we receive notes of thanks from the families of the children we have helped, we share them with our donors and volunteers.
A highlight from the Executive Director of the Calgary Police Foundation's inaugural Report to Community:
- I’d like to extend a big thanks to the Calgary Police Service – and the donors who made it possible – for launching an initiative to cover the replacement costs of items lost by children in the flooding.
- Calgary police officers have identified numerous families in Calgary and region whose children have lost everything from beds to sporting equipment. What a wonderful way to forge a lasting bond between our children and our police officers.
- Thank you for supporting the Calgary Police Foundation as we invest in a safer Calgary.