Friday, December 30, 2005

Trails Youth Initiatives

Becuase of the recent violence that occured in Toronto, there has been a lot of discussion about how some of this city's youth came to be carriers of handguns? How could they be involved in a conflict that requires a gun to resolve it? How did their sense of community and their respect for others disintegrate to the point where they would open fire on each other, and on innocent passersby? How could they not feel a care for the families and lives that they destroy?

My initial reaction to these events was anger and indignation. I was also very resentful of the fact that the society I live in is held responsible for the actions of these handful of youths. Now that I've calmed down, I was able to look through to search for non-profit organizations around Toronto that make it their mission to help youths in underpriviledged communities. Here is one.

Trails Youth Initiatives
Established in 1992 by Peter Dalglish and Jim Hayhurst Sr., this is a wilderness camp program for inner city youths who are vulnerable to become a part of, or victims of "substance abuse, discrimination, sexuality, violence and hopelessness." It is unique because it is a four-year program. The individuals who enroll in this program have to stick with it, and at the end, they also have a chance to "graduate" from it. This program is so successful that it is now recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Education as a legitimate private school.

What struck me about this program is that it is long-term. It is not a band-aid solution like so many of the ones that politicians like to trumpet as if they were their own incredible inventions. Approaching these individuals at a young age, and sticking it out with them for four years requires a lot of commitment from both the organizers, and the participants. From commitment comes a bond, and from a bond, love, and from love anything can happen.

Donations to Trails Youth Initiatives can be made HERE.

Thanks for reading.

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