The coordinator of the Youth Restorative Justice Program is hoping that a harm prevention program for youth piloted two years ago will be in schools again before Christmas.
The program is designed to reach out to youth before they commit harm or are victims of harm.
It will ask the questions what does harm look like, what are healthy relationships, what are your goals and what is it going to take to get there, explained coordinator Ranjit Kingra who facilitates all the Restorative Justice conferences and the educational programs.
She is hoping that the program will be back in two secondary schools in the district soon.
“It’s very experiential,” said Kingra.
“We’ll throw a topic out there and then we talk about it. What does that mean to you? What is your experience with this? It’s furthering their knowledge and deepening their understanding and also doing that one to one work with them,” she continued.
The purpose of youth restorative justice is to bring people together, both the people who have done the harm and people who are victims of harm, and form a dialogue about what harm looks like, how to repair it and what does accountability looks like. The end goal is to ultimately help both parties repair the harm that has been committed.
Since the program started in 1994 2,300 youth between the ages of 12- to 24-years who have done the harm have been helped.
“When you add in victims and families it’s way more than that,” Kingra added.
“It could be just a harmful event between two people, so whether that is bullying or harrassment or what that might be. Or it could be a criminal event,” she explained.
There are three other programs run by Youth Restorative Justice that is, in turn, a program run by the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services.
One is the effects of shoplifting program that educates youth about the societal and monetary effects of theft and connecting that to the youth’s personal experiences, feelings and beliefs.
There is also the personal achievement program which is a series of classes using that explores choices, paradigms, mindset, emotions, communications, substsances, healthy relationships and goals.
Then there is the mentorship program that pairs volunteers with either a youth who has committed harm or is a victim.
“So that person connects with them. They might do leisure things. They are that adult person who they can talk to,” said Kingra who also wants to offer mentorship through the prevention program.
“It’s just supporting youth at a whole different level for a longer length of time,” she said.
More than 90,000 youth are accused of a crime every year in Canada and the average cost of a youth offender throughout adolescence is estimated at $823,099. Compare that to $1,000 if they are sent throuth the Restorative Justice program, a six times more cost effective solution than having a youth go through court proceedings.
The Youth Restorative Justice program also boasts an approximate non-reoffending rate of 80 per cent.
Referrals into the program come from schools, police, courts, businesses, community and self-referrals.
A Pub Night and Silent Auction is being held to raise money for Youth Restorative Justice.
There will be a live dessert auction with donations from bakeries at Safeway, Delizie Italiane Bakery and Bistro and Dairy Queen.
“We’ve also got Thomas Haney, Garibaldi, Maple Ridge Secondary School, Westview, and SRT, all of their programs are donating one if not two desserts that students have made,” said Kingra.
More than 60 items will be auctioned off during the silent auction including Larry Walker autographed cleat and uniform, all day paintball for a group of ten worth $450, a Great Canadian Gaming package for the Hard Rock Casino for dinner, gambling and a shopping spree at the Hard Rock Store for four people, four rounds of golf with a power cart at Golden Eagle Golf Club, a one night stay at Sun Peaks Grand Resort and a vase worth $240 from Art Vargas.
There will be a 50/50 and fun games.
Dinner will include either a hard drink or a beer with steak, baked potato, dinner roll, salad and baked beans. There is a vegetarian option.
Pub Night and Silent Auction in support of Youth Restorative Justice takes place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Maple Ridge Equi-Sport Centre Ranch Pub and Grill at 21973 132 Ave. in Maple Ridge.
Tickets are $25.
For more information call 604-467-6911.