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

Just Posted

HarbourCats bats hot in home return

Victoria squad downs Yakima Valley Pippins 17-2

Victoria veteran receives French Legion of Honour, becoming knight of France

Ted Vaughan was a pilot in the 408 “Goose” Squadron in WW2

Witness the passion and fire of flamenco in Victoria this July

Seventh annual Victoria Flamenco Festival features free and ticketed performances downtown

Sidney youth bowl over the competition, head for nationals

Youngsters take Mens and Womens Singles Championships at recent tournament

West Shore resident, local officer encourages women to take control of their safety

Kris Greffard is posting short videos with safety tips for women using local trails and parks

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Most Read