Inspirational approach to helping at-risk youth
Published Wednesday, December 31, 2014 4:07PM MST Last Updated Wednesday, December 31, 2014 5:05PM MST
When young people find themselves facing legal trouble, the Calgary Youth Justice Society offers an opportunity to right their path.
The organization's ‘In the lead’ program promotes character-building with a focus on leadership.
Denise Blair, the executive director of the society, says many of the young people they encounter are struggling with poverty, substance abuse, low engagement in school and sometimes criminal involvement.
Despite their difficult situations, Denise says the group members have amazing potential.
“When we look at them, we don't traditionally see a leader in that kind of sense,” explains Denise, “but they are people with tremendous and incredible strengths and potential. They just need an opportunity to use their strengths and to apply them in new ways.”
Denise convinced Cenovus Energy offer financial and direct hands-on support for the ‘In the lead’ program.
Lynne Douglas, group lead for community investment at Cenovus, says the organization is a great fit for the company and its employees.
“They brought their expertise to the table, we brought ours,” said Lynne. “We got the opportunity to help build a program for employees to become coaches for these vulnerable youth and then they became an integral part of the program.”
Denise say the program rewards both the young people and the mentors while helping remove preconceived notions about at risk youth.
‘They just meet them right where they are and who they are today,” explains Denise. “We send them on a mission to look for what's strong, and not wrong, in our young people.”
Lynne Douglas says Denise’s contributions to the program are inspirational.
“She has incredible vision but she's an executor,” said Lynne. “She knows not just about what this could be but she knows how to put it together with her team and make it happen.”
For her support of young people, Denise Blair is this week’s Inspiring Albertan.
With files from CTV's Darrel Janz