Bill Jamieson

Saanich rec centre offers way out for kids facing troubled life

At risk youth complete community service, receive life skills training at Commonwealth Place

For nearly three years, at risk youth in Saanich have been given the chance to avoid a criminal record and receive mentoring while completing community service at Commonwealth Place. This month marks a major evolution of that model – one that will now incorporate healthy activity and skills training at the rec centre as a part of the restorative justice process for kids.

When Saanich police refer youth to the John Howard Society of Victoria, an organization devoted to providing services to people in conflict with the law, they will be connected with a recreation programmer at Commonwealth Place.

Young people in trouble – though they can’t have a criminal record – must complete 15 to 30 hours of maintenance work at the centre. While the do, they’re also eligible to spend one-third of that time participating in recreation programs. Activities range from swimming and kayaking classes to job skills and first aid training.

“We’re trying to help them with those life skills that they can carry beyond their time here,” said Tom Bryce, manager of Commonwealth Place. “I believe that’s one of the keys to success: the relationships that are built through this process. I think somebody that feels comfortable and welcome is someone that tends to be more involved.”

Kim Fagerland, supervisor of the Saanich Community Justice Initiative, is an alternate measures counsellor for both adults and youth through John Howard. She attributes the success of community service participants to the role models at the centre who help the kids.

“I prefer to send kids there because the staff there are so understanding of youth and accept kids where they’re at,” Fagerland said. “I know that they’re going to be treated well, respected and challenged.”

Whether facing bullying at school or a divorce at home, Fagerland says all of the youth she sees are dealing with underlying problems. A large portion of the participants are males raised by single mothers, she added.

“That’s the frustration of my job,” she said. “Where are the men to step up and support these boys? We need men to step up and take responsibility for them. … There’s no good men in their lives and that’s why I like to send them to Commonwealth,” Fagerland said, lauding the mentorship of Bill Jamieson, building service supervisor and first contact youth make at the centre.

“(Youth) come in here after they’re done and you know them by their first name … and it’s kinda neat to strike up a conversation. These kids are really good,” Jamieson said. “I’m really impressed with the whole system.”

There are far more stories of success than there are failures, Jameison said.

Former participants have continued to volunteer beyond their obligations. At least one has secured employment as a result of his experience.

Fagerland added: “If you have a criminal record and you can’t get a job, what are we gong to do with these people? … When I see youth (at John Howard), I see it as a call for help.”

About 25 to 30 kids complete community service at the rec centre annually. Their participation in recreation programming, including a three-month Saanich Recreation Access Pass upon completion of the community service, is funded by Coast Capital Savings.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

Most Read