REACH Edmonton

As a pregnant teen, newly arrived in Edmonton and struggling to attend school, Patricia was facing a number of challenges in her life.

But in 2015, the WrapED initiative gave Patricia, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, a chance to turn her situation around.

WrapED (Wraparound Edmonton) is a partnership of six Edmonton organizations working together to help young people affected by violent crime move away from the threat of gangs, and learn to thrive in the community.

WrapED aims to empower youth to set their own goals, and to take the lead on building their own support teams that will continue to help them achieve their potential in the community long after they have left the program. It is a process that builds on the strengths of youth, and involves them in creating one plan with all of the professionals and natural supports in their lives.

These natural supports can counter the influence of negative peers, helping to reinforce positive changes in a young person’s life.

Pregnant and suspected of gang involvement, Patricia was referred to the program by the WrapED Edmonton Police Service Liason Constable.

“She had just moved to the city from Saskatchewan and she didn’t know what resources were available to her,” said the WrapED Youth Facilitator that worked with Patricia. “We’re identifying supports so she knows she’s not alone and there’s help out there. It’s like a tool for her. It took a while to build the team. It helps reinforce her goals.”

Patricia set her own goals: finding employment, finding daycare for her son, getting her driver’s license and attending school again.

Having access to these supports and a WrapED facilitator makes accomplishing these goals seem more possible, said Patricia.

Two years later, she has accomplished every one of these goals and has added training to be a Registered Nurse after she finishes high school to the list.

Her WrapED facilitator connected her with a pre-employment program called Working Warriors, where she will work on her goal of receiving her high school diploma while doing paid work experience. Her team helps support her while she attends the program. For example, Patricia’s facilitator and the team were instrumental in helping her access a bus pass, successfully pass her driver’s license test and start attending school again.

As of November 15, WrapED has served more than 165 youth like Patricia. At the time of referral, almost all youth were using alcohol/drugs and 70 per cent had some type of prior justice involvement.

The initiative is focused on empowering vulnerable youth aged 12 to 17 in building the life that they want for themselves, while gaining a sense of control over their futures.

“I got a lot of help and support to keep me going and encourage me to be the person I need to be for my son,” said Patricia. “If I didn’t have a WrapED facilitator it would have been really hard to get resources like Working Warriors. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be where I am.”

WrapED is a partnership between: The Africa Centre, Edmonton John Howard Society, Edmonton Police Service, Native Counselling Services of Alberta, REACH Edmonton and YOUCAN Youth Services. WrapED is funded in part by the Government of Canada, Public Safety Canada. REACH Edmonton acts as the backbone organization for WrapED: providing overall strategic direction, facilitating dialogue between partners, managing data collection, handling communications, coordinating community outreach and mobilizing funding.