Calgary Youth Justice Society has been making a difference in the lives of young people whose life circumstances and choices have placed them at risk. Since the early beginnings of establishing Youth Justice Committees 18 years ago, we have continued to be innovative in our approach. CYJS has always seen the potential for young people to be resilient if engaged in ways that affirm their value and worth as the starting point for positive change. When adult volunteers and community partners connect in a positive way with young people who are at risk of or have involvement with the criminal justice system, the impact is youth who feel supported to be a part of our community in a meaningful way.
Our vision is a city where young people both contribute to, and flourish in, safe, caring communities.
Calgary Youth Justice Society, together with our volunteers, community partnerships and investors, serves young people through the delivery of 2 programs: Youth Justice Committees and In the Lead.
YOUTH JUSTICE COMMITTEES: First-time offenders represent the largest population of young people coming into contact with our criminal justice system. Youth Justice Committees provide a community based volunteer driven alternative to court for young people charged with minor offences. Fourteen Youth Justice Committees serve over 270 communities in Calgary, and through the efforts of 116 volunteers, give hundreds of young people a second chance. The program is tailor-made to each youth, has a high level of collaboration with the justice system and community partners, and retains long-serving volunteers who deliver a professional service. Youth often say they now realize their own power and the opportunity to make a positive choice, they have a new idea of their role and responsibilities in a community, and they feel better about themselves as a result of the sanctions they were given. Sanctions are often chosen to fit the strengths, future plans, interests and current challenges of the young person before them. When assigned community service work, young people get job experience, e.g. volunteering at the library, and increased feelings of self-worth, satisfaction and sense of belonging to community.
IN THE LEAD: Not all young people with strong leadership abilities are easy to spot. Many young people, facing challenges and obstacles growing up, develop characteristics that can be the foundation of great leadership but are too often overlooked in favour of peers who are displaying their potential in more conventional and obvious ways.
Over 16 weeks, Young Leaders recognize, nurture and practice individual strengths and character competencies that are known to build resilience. Cenovus Energy, founding partner of ITL and many other corporations in Calgary engages their employees as Volunteer Coaches to connect one on one with the young leaders, providing valuable encouragement and support.
Together, the Young Leader and Coach lay the foundation for realizing the young person’s potential, and reducing the likelihood of risk-taking behaviour and minimizing the challenges of negative life circumstances.
One way to predict the future is to create it. We are seeking co-creators of a future where young people both contribute to and flourish in safe, caring communities. With your support, the future starts today!
Make a donation, volunteer or partner with us to extend our reach and make a bigger impact together.
Visit our website for more information. www.calgaryyouthjustice.ca