When Albertans think of solutions for problems facing at-risk youth, especially those in custody at Alberta’s young offender centres, a bunch of kids dancing to thumping hip-hop music doesn’t usually come to mind. But recently in the Calgary Young Offender Centre that’s exactly what happened.
Five days of workshops kicked off on November 21, 2011, that used music to help troubled youth deal with complex issues like family violence, sexual abuse, anger management, drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
The ‘Blueprint for Life’ program has worked with over 3600 ‘at risk’ youth in 40 communities. Their program uses the positive elements of hip-hop to help educate, guide and develop young people.
Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security Minister Jonathan Denis attended a presentation by the youth on the final day of the workshop. “Numerous programs at this Centre help equip kids to deal with life and tough situations,” he said. “Through programs like this they can now express themselves in constructive ways – and having seen some of the work these kids have done… it’s just incredible stuff.”
Funding from the federal government, a great deal of work by Calgary Young Offender Centre staff, and support from the City of Calgary and the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative were all crucial parts of making this program possible.