Why We Exist
Amy was described as challenging authority and having a bad attitude. She was seen as cocky, opinionated, angry and defiant. Amy was taking some classes at an outreach high school, but life circumstances and choices were weighing heavily on her; she was struggling. Drugs and alcohol were a problem and she was partying a lot, she had behavioral challenges and was was skipping out on school, she had unhealthy relationships and an unplanned pregnancy.
Her mom was at a loss, saying that Amy had no hope, no direction, and was generally very unhappy. She was worried. Then a glimpse of hope appeared on what she calls “…the day that everything changed. Amy came home from school in a good mood (emphasizing that good moods were not common for her). She was excited to say that she was nominated for a leadership program because a teacher at school thought she was a leader with a potential.”
Imagine, as a mom, how she must have felt that day – Amy wasn’t’t referred to a program because someone saw another problem that needed to be fixed; this time it was a special spark in her daughter that earned her a spot in an innovative program called “In the Lead”.
It took a while for things to shift for Amy. But slowly, with a relentless focus on her strengths, she began to believe them and use them in new and promising ways. She was developing leadership characteristics in weekly classes where the facilitator led engaging conversations with her peers, she was connected with a Volunteer Coach who helped to mentor Amy through her journey, and she was giving back to the community through group volunteer events.
She became outspoken, using her voice to stand up for herself and others. She was independent, strong-willed, and engaged. She had focus and ambition. Her mom says it best – “when Amy was in the program she became more positive, more confident and more at ease. She was happy, she had hope…her light was back, I could see it in her eyes. She is now on a journey to becoming the person she was meant to be.”
This is only one story of one youth in one program at Calgary Youth Justice Society, but the great news is that Amy is among 400 youth every year who are given a chance to change, and do. Even still, there are too many overlooked young people in our community, like Amy, who are waiting for someone to notice what’s strong instead of what’s wrong.
Remember those characteristics that Amy used to be known for… cocky, opinionated, angry and defiant? Here are Amy’s own words she uses to describe who she is now:
“I am courageous. I am smart. I am outspoken. I am beautiful. I am a leader….. I am me”.