WATCH ABOVE: Jill Croteau reports on a new centre targeting teens, set to open in October 2015.
CALGARY – A one-of-a-kind facility designed to address the pressures of growing up through the teen years opens this week in Calgary.
“YouthLink Calgary showcases our mandate of education, crime prevention and early intervention,” said Brian Ferguson, Chair of the Calgary Police Foundation.
The YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre is a multi-million dollar space showcasing interactive exhibits. It’s a place that’s meant to encourage unfiltered conversations, and targets Grade 6 students.
The Centre celebrated its grand opening on Monday, and opens to the public on Friday, Oct. 2 ahead of classroom activities getting underway next week.
“Our goal is not to cure something, but to prevent it,” said YouthLink’s Tara Robinson.
“Kids can be very smart and very naïve: they think they’ll be offered drugs from adults and guys in trench coats, and we want to prepare them,” she said. “They’re going to see drugs and…we need to say, ‘your skin will turn yellow, their teeth will fall out we don’t sugarcoat it.”
Around 15,000 students are expected to go through the program each year.
Ten-year-old Michael Kirk went through the program’s summer camp component and said the discussion on drugs was particularly useful.
“An undercover cop came in and gave us different samples…I thought it was good information, so if I came in that situation I would know the right thing to do,” he said.
The students also learn about the impact of ever-evolving technology.
“I learned about bullying and online safety and passwords and giving out information and street smarts,” said Kirk.
Authentic and relevant examples of what the kids will face in the future are emphasized in the program.
“They want to shape us to make the right decisions when we’re older so we have a good future.”
With files from Kristy Peterson and Erika Tucker