A Volunteer: Testimonial

I have been apart of the Northern Hills Youth Justice Committee for the past four years. My experiences volunteering at Calgary Youth Justice Society has been nothing short of amazing. CYJS gives me the opportunity to make a direct and lasting impact to my community. For the government to allow the Extra Judicial Sanctions Program to be an alternative to court, it empowers the youth to take responsibility for their actions while learning about the consequences of committing an offence.

The Northern Hills Youth Justice Committee has provided me with ongoing support from day one. Starting with a few panel sessions where I shadow the committee members so I can get acclimated to the normal procedures that takes place during a panel meeting. This continuous support has allowed me to learn to be confident and eventually chair the panel meetings. From the chair of our committee, Tanya Leukefeld, to all of the Northern Hills Youth Justice Committee volunteers, everyone plays an integral part in the development of all our volunteers and our community.

Every file I receive comes with a completely different experience. Unique backgrounds and interests of each youth is just the first step of understanding the file. Once the file is received, I create a meeting time where there are a panel of three people from the committee along with the youth and their guardians. At this stage, we try to understand the situation and the events that occurred that day of the offence. From there, we gauge what the youth’s interests are and come to an agreement on what Extra Judicial Sanctions to assign the youth.

It was not until I joined CYJS, that I was more conscious of what happens in my community and how there are things I can do to help direct youth in the right path. I find that the youth and their parents truly appreciate the time and effort I put towards helping them. It is always in my best interest to complete the file successfully and that they learned from their mistakes. The success rates from the Extra Judicial Sanctions Program gives me a lot of optimism that the hours we put towards the youth in the community is actually making a difference. Taking the time to understand each unique situation allows me to develop many useful skills that has helped me in developing my professional career in accounting.

Calgary Youth Justice Society also allows me to gain more knowledge about the endless volunteer organizations in Calgary and the community that are geared towards assisting youth with any problems. From theft prevention, equality, communication, and confidence; those are just a few topics that I would be able to enroll my youth in for them to get a better understanding of society and themselves. The options are endless.

The feedback I receive from the youth and their parents are also extremely encouraging. In closing panels, I meet with the youth and their parents again to retrieve all of the completed sanction items, if any, and find out how they found the programs they were put in. In my latest file, the youth thoroughly enjoyed the theft prevention program because it educated the youth on the impacts of theft on the victim and society. The youth’s father also noticed a difference in his demeanour after this entire process and he thanked me for this experience.

My ultimate goal with volunteering with Calgary Youth Justice Society is to make a lasting impact in my community starting with youth. People make mistakes everyday and they simply just need to understand that. If I help guide youth in the right direction through educational programs and activities, it will effect their decision making in the future on whether they should commit the crime or not. One step at a time. File by File. Youth by Youth.

– Patrick Dang