Bill Jamieson

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

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read