In the weeks and months following the tragic death of a Halifax teaching assistant at the hands of a teen driver behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle, there were all kinds of suggestions on how to fix what appeared to be a broken justice system when it came to its handling of youth offenders.
One of the things that came out of the Nunn report that followed that incident was the creation of a pilot project that is attempting to make a difference for not only troubled youth, but also their families. Schools Plus recognizes the fact that troubled teens are not just the domain of the education or justice system, but are often dealt with by Community Services and other stakeholders.
The program attempts to bring those government departments and agencies together so they are working toward the common goal of providing valuable programs and services to teens and their families in a school setting instead of continuing the cycle of dealing with them separately in a disconnected manner.
While the program is only a year old, and there's no indication if the pilot will become permanent, Schools Plus is making a difference in that it is identifying at-risk youth when they can still be reached and instead of being reacting after something has gone horribly wrong, it's trying to be proactive in giving young people hope that there's a better future.
This program is not the cure-all to what's troubling young people today and there's no question that many of the problems they are facing today will be faced by teens in five or 10 years.
Still, it's a huge start that will stop the seemingly never-ending cycle of watching almost helplessly as many teens are allowed to fall between the cracks and repeat some of the mistakes others have made.
No longer will we be able to throw up our hands in frustration after something happens involving our young people. Now something constructive is being done to give these teens and their families an opportunity to be contributing members of society.