I am going to take this opportunity to share with you a little about a young man who came to us to complete his community hours, via the Lanark County Community Justice Program. We can call him Mike. Mike is a young man who wandered off the straight and narrow path, with the help of a friend. Like many young people Mike lacked confidence, struggled in school and wanted to be liked and popular. This made him vulnerable to be talked into making some bad choices, which lead to a potential charge of theft. Mike's luck changed when someone in the legal system nominated him as a candidate for Lanark County Community Justice Program.
Mike has shared his experience of the program with me, how powerful it was for him to participate in it. Powerful may seem like a strange word to use but Mike feels he has grown leaps and bounds from the experience. He knows regardless of what mistakes he may make in the future, he now has the skills to try and fix it: to be honest, to own it, to listen and hear how your bad choice affected another and to try and make amends. He feels he is much more aware of consequences his actions might have on himself and others.
Mike has long ago finished his volunteer hours, yet twice a week he shows up here to volunteer. What seemed at one time a form of punishment is now a source of enjoyment and pride. Mike's self-confidence has grown, he has found a network of fellow volunteers who like him just the way he is, he beams with pride when his hard work and efforts are rewarded with a "Good Job bud".
I try not to reflect on how things might have gone if he had not entered the program.
A Program Supervisor