The Delta School District has been awarded a grant of $100,500 through the B.C. Government’s School District Mentorship Grant Program. The district plans to use this funding to support individual and group mentoring initiatives designed to counter gang recruitment and associated gang lifestyle-related risks for youth, and to reinforce healthy relationships and values.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant,” said Val Windsor, Chair of the Delta Board of Education. “District staff have already been working in partnership with the Delta Police Department, Yo Bro/Yo Girl Youth Initiative and the Ministry of Child and Family Development to help prevent youth being recruited by gangs, and to provide support where we know youth are already on the path to gang involvement by providing timely and targeted interventions. This new funding will enable us to widen the scope and impact of this important work already underway.”
“Sadly, youth gang recruitment is a growing and serious issue in Delta. We are seeing more Delta youth engaging in high-risk behaviours associated with early gang involvement,” said Joanna Angelidis, Director of Inclusive Learning, Learning Services, Delta School District. “In addition, we are seeing an increase in the intensity and frequency of the risks and difficulties youth face in our community. It is so important that we provide wrap-around supports and services to help vulnerable youth and their families. This support needs to be multi-dimensional and extend beyond the school walls, including after school and over the weekend. This grant will go a long way to help us deliver that as we anticipate being able to support an additional 20 youth as a result.”
Often, it’s the students who are experiencing a range of vulnerabilities, such as mental health difficulties, food security challenges, minimal positive relationships with peers, and limited access to extra-curricular activities that district staff see moving along the continuum for increased gang recruitment.
“This one-time grant will support a Youth and Family Engagement Worker who is solely dedicated to assisting youth and their families to access community-based supports and services including mental health-related supports and services (e.g., counselling services, art therapy), healthy recreational activities, food security, housing services and various other valuable therapies. We are extremely thankful to have received this grant, and look forward to maximizing the impact of the Youth Mentorship Empowerment Team,” said Joanna Angelidis.
The School District Mentorship Grant Program was developed by the ministries of Education and Public Safety and Solicitor General as part of the Erase strategy, an education-based anti-gang program. The Erase program also carries out analysis of concerning or risky student behaviour, educator training, identification of local resources for support and school district capacity building.