Over the past three decades, YouthLink Calgary (YL) has operated as a leader in youth crime-reduction programs that target the key issues identified by our city’s police service. In 2015, YL opened its doors in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility, with the goal of increasing its impact.
Information provided to us by the Calgary Police Service, allows our organization to remain relevant and focus on priority crime issues. Our goal is to protect children during their critical adolescent years by using education to empower safe decisions when faced with crime-related pressures and challenges. Through the evaluation of a variety of police information systems and an on-going partnership with the Calgary Police Service, programs and supporting exhibits were created to focus on five key reduction strategy topics: Drugs, Gangs, Healthy Relationships and Online Safety. Each year, these Safe for Life Presentations and exhibits are updated to match the change in behaviours and issues reported by police.
In addition to focusing on these five important topics, we have committed our efforts to include a strong focus in strengthening police-community relations. A proven ingredient for ongoing community safety is an established trust in police among youth and their parents.
For 2018, our focus will be on implementing new and strategy-driven initiatives as well as enhancing the evaluation and monitoring of our impact.
YouthLink’s Core Initiatives
- Empowering youth to make safe decisions surrounding crime-related pressures and challenges.
- Strengthen police-community relations.
- Secure community funding and revenue to support programs.
Key Ingredients for Success
In accordance with the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS), administered by Public Safety Canada’s National
Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC), YL included the following specific elements in its programs:
- Address key risk and protective factors relating to each Safe for Life Presentation.
- Focus on the root causes of risk and protective factors (support, knowledge and smart decision-making skills, accessing resources and support).
- Deliver this critical information to the right kids and the right time: Calgarians on the cusp of facing difficult crime-related pressures.
- Maintain partnerships with other Calgary-side support networks: Calgary School Boards, the Calgary Police Service, local social agencies.
- Evaluate and monitor our success.
YouthLink’s strategy supports a focus on early prevention initiatives for the following populations:
- Grade 6 Field Trips: Youth aged 11-12, Calgarians on the cusp of facing crime-related pressures and challenges. Includes 60% of Calgary’s Grade 6 students. Discover the impact.
- Police School: Youth aged 11-12 of vulnerable populations, identified by community-specific data on risk and protective factors to guide the selection of schools for Police School. Discover the impact.
- YCOPP: Youth aged 11-17 of vulnerable populations, initiated to fill an identified gap in existing community services; the need for programs available to youth-focused police officers, social agencies, probation officers and other. Discover the impact.
- Adult Education: Parents and Teachers of Calgary youth, to help complete the circle of support and increase the success of youth-focused initiatives.
The Goals of Each Program
Using science-based strategies proven by the NCPS as well as our team’s expert knowledge and three decades of organizational experience, we implemented the following goals for each program:
- Develop positive decision-making skills to avoid criminal behaviour and victimization.
- Acquire an understanding of the important roles of police and citizens pay in community safety.
- Develop an appreciation for self-reflection, taking responsibility and getting help.
- Increase perception of a deserving future and self-worth.
- Introduce effective behavioral skills for reducing anxiety, impulse behaviour and aggression.
- Increase knowledge of and reduce negative stigma of substance abuse and addiction.
- Increase accessing resources for support.
The anecdotal and measurable results of YL’s programs demonstrate the effectiveness of the organization’s efforts. Teacher and student feedback supports these findings with increases in the following areas: participant’s knowledge of key issues identified by the Calgary Police Service, positive decision-making skills and positive perception of police.