Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Winnipeg program offers "Bright Futures" for children in poverty

A unique program in one of Winnipeg's poorest neighbourhoods is working to increase its current high school graduation rate of 37 per cent.
Bright Futures is a program that gives kids in low-income neighbourhoods the tools they need to succeed in high school.
The program is only in its second year, but last year 85 per cent of the students met their academic requirements, and no one dropped out.
The participants of the program are high school students from families living in the Watson Street neighbourhood, which is a lower-income community in the Maples.
The program's goal is to help kids successfully graduate from high school and transition into a post-secondary education.
Bright Futures exposes students to a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities to help them decide what they want to work towards. The program provides each student with a parent support worker, who works with the student, the student's family and his teachers.
Rajvir Sahira , a tenth-grader in her second year of Bright Futures, said her involvement with Bright Futures has helped her maintain an 85 per cent average.
'It's like a snowball effect; if you drop behind it's going to get bigger. So, stay on track and keep going,'—Ricki Sanderson, student
"I know that there's someone to support me," said Sahira of the program. "My parents have [to] work so it's hard to get help from them. I can come to the tutoring centre and get my work done."
Ricki Sanderson, a tenth-grader, is also in his second year of the program.
Sanderson said at one point he was falling behind in pre-calculus math, but his support worker and the tutoring helped him to turn it around.
"It really helps," said Sanderson. "It's like a snowball effect; if you drop behind it's going to get bigger. So, stay on track and keep going."
Sanderson wants to pursue interests in architecture and forensic science.
The program offers a cash incentive of $1000 for every year of high school a student passes.
The money is intended to help the students attend the university or college of their choosing.
In addition to earning $1000 a year for post-secondary education, kids can earn up to $600 dollars a year to spend on art classes, music lessons, or sports that cost money.
Other incentives include bus tickets for transportation to and from the centre, and access to a gym for them and their parents.
Every participant in the program must come to Bright Futures for a minimum of three hours a week of tutoring and four hours of mentorship per month. Also, Bright Futures students have to volunteer and keep a high school average of 70 per cent.
Parents of the students are required to keep in contact with their child's support worker and are given regular progress reports.
"I'm thankful for the Bright Futures program," said Sanderson's father, Richard. " I see the support they give the children."
In order to help students transition into the professions they are interested in pursuing, the program facilitates meeting between the student and a professional in their field of interest.
The recently released provincial budget has earmarked additional resources towards the Bright Futures program.

I think this program sounds really great! Education has been shown to be the best predictor in whether individuals commit crimes or not. If we can get more low income students to graduate high school and possibly move on to higher education, we have a chance at reducing crime in the long term. This is a great program and we need to see more like it! I think it's great they are offering incentives to keep the teens motivated in completing school and also offering a wide variety of recreational activities to keep them busy. We need these programs all over Winnipeg and it is offering a better future for low income teens who may live in poverty and can help to reduce crime. :) 

More about Bright Futures 
Bright Futures Manitoba Official Website

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