The groundwork and infrastructure for a pilot program to help at-risk youth and their families in Airdrie is currently being laid down with local MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly), the Rocky View School Division, as well as several Airdrie not-for-profit organizations.
On Monday Kairistie Walker, the President of Peer Mediation And Skills Training (PMAST) and founder of The Xperynce, Brenda Christie, presented to Airdrie's City Council on the pilot project - Airdrie on the Horizon. Christie said that they are ready as an organization to begin working with youth.
According to previous correspondence by Christie to The City, the project is funded for three years and would go towards developing, 'an infrastructure collaborating with organizations already established in Airdrie, to provide whatever resources these youth and their families may need to assist in rebalancing their lives.'
Some of the organizations that were mentioned during council included potential partnerships with The Airdrie Angels, The Sober Friends Society, Community Links, as well as members of the Calgary Police's Indigenous Unit.
"We're trying to [get a] psychologist, we're trying to make sure that whatever resources these kids need, that we can connect them to them and help them through this process," Christie said.
According to the presentation, Canada spends over $14 million each day on adult incarceration, while according to a citation from Vanderbilt University, 'The value of saving a 14 [year-old] high-risk juvenile from a life of crime ranges from $2.6 to $5.3 million.'
"I loved hearing that you were talking about the Airdrie village and building it we to believe in that and the partnership that we're looking to continue to build is key within this ask yourselves with regards to youth at risk what legacy needs to happen," Walker added.
Councillor Jones, however, asked for clarity on what the pilot program might offer, citing that Community Links already offers similar programs. Walker clarified that they tailor their program to the individual in need.
"Let's say the issue is bullying; communication is a key part of that as well as [and] again the neuro-social sciences, teaching individual kids as well as adult[s], how their body is impacting their communication and their behaviour and to provide some direct skills and tools to work around this to follow up," she said.
Christie added that the program is not looking to 're-invent the wheel', but instead wants to partner with organizations already in the city.
"We're looking to utilize the organizations here that already provide a good service and [to] collaborate with them, to make sure we can provide the resources that these youth need, whatever that may be."
According to Airdrie's 2023 census, Airdrie's younger residents, aged 10-14 make up the third largest segment of the population - 6,477 residents, while those who are five to nine years old are the fourth largest segment of the population - 6,270 residents.
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