At-Risk Youth Reach for the Stars, Not for Drugs

At-Risk Youth Reach for the Stars, Not for Drugs
by Ontario Central East
Categories: Divisional News

Before Deena (not her real name) entered a Salvation Army community-based drug treatment program she used daily, struggled with anxiety and depression, and did not have a good relationship with her mother. Today, Deena is drug free, coaching sports, working and is in university.

“The program fills a gap in the community to provide local supports for youth involved with or at risk of being involved with the justice system and/or who have experienced negative life circumstances that include drug use, homelessness and expulsion from school,” says Julia Parker, Executive Director of The Salvation Army’s Correctional and Justice Services in London, Ont.

Jess was a daily substance user when she started the program. She also struggled with an undiagnosed mental health issue. Through the program her issue was identified and appropriate supports were put in place to address her needs. Jess graduated from high school and is attending university. She hasn’t used for over two years.

“There was an overwhelming positive response from many participants who reported that, as a result of the program, their situations improved,” says Parker. Some were attending school on a regular basis and others had plans for further education. Many strengthened relationships with family members, stopped using, increased involvement with community activities and connected to valuable community resources.

“We need to support these youth,” says Parker. ”Due to the rural nature of their location, many don’t have access to treatment.”