Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth speaks at a funding announcement Tuesday morning in Abbotsford. He is joined by (from left) Abbotsford board of education chair Stan Petersen, superintendent Kevin Godden, Walter Mustapich of the Boys Club Network and Education Minister Rob Fleming. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News)

Abbotsford among 12 districts getting total of $1.12 million in gang-prevention funds

Money in partnership with Boys Club Network for after-school programs and more

The provincial government announced on Tuesday that Abbotsford will be among 12 school districts receiving a total of $1.12 million for gang-prevention programming in partnership with the Boys Club Network.

The announcement was made at W. J. Mouat Secondary in Abbotsford by Education Minister Rob Fleming and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

Farnworth previously announced the funding allocation in July 2018 but the specifics of how the money will be spent were detailed at Tuesday’s announcement.

RELATED: Surrey mayor says ‘party is over’ with gang task force report

The other 11 participating communities are: Burnaby, Delta, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria and Williams Lake.

The funding supports the new ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) school-based gang prevention program.

The communities selected to participate were identified by police and safety experts as those that could benefit from additional gang-prevention support.

Fleming said the funds will help support young people to stay out of gangs.

“We’re ensuring all B.C. students receive an education free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation and, most importantly, violence, for generations to come,” he said.

Through the partnership with the Boys Club Network – an organization that works to create safe spaces for boys aged 12 to 19 – after-school programs will be set up where they don’t already exist.

As well, new high school elective courses will be created that connect teen boys with positive adult role models and provide leadership and career development opportunities.

The funds will be administered by the B.C. School Superintendents Association (BCSSA).

RELATED: PREVENTING GANGSTERS: ‘The signs were there, where was I?’ says B.C. mom

RELATED: Rally cry in Abbotsford against gang killings

Approximately 2,200 students, 1,500 parents and 2,500 educators, law enforcement officials and those form community groups will have an opportunity to participate in gang-prevention and awareness education and training sessions.

The sessions will be provided by Safer Schools Together, the Ministry of Education’s partner for ERASE.

Topics will include an overview of the current B.C. gang landscape, how gang members are recruiting, myths and realities of gang membership, warning signs and how to help if someone is being recruited or is already involved in gang-related activity.

Safer Schools Together will also develop a new provincial learning resource for B.C. education professionals focused on gang prevention.

This will include videos and a teacher guide focused on helping all students develop healthy relationships, avoid unsafe or exploitive situations, and how to protect themselves from harm.

Localized monthly reports on public social media activity regarding gang activity will also be provided to school districts, along with support on how best to address any concerning online behaviour.

Farnworth said early-intervention and prevention programs like ERASE are vital to keeping young people out of gangs.

“Ending the gun and gang violence that’s taking young lives and threatening our communities will continue to require strong, strategic prevention and enforcement efforts,” he said.

Walter Mustapich, president and co-founder of the Boys Club Network, said young people benefit greatly from mentorship programs and other supports.

“If boys do not understand and value themselves and their human potential, and make enduring connections with positive adult male mentors and role models within their primary spheres of influence — family, school, extracurricular — they will seek connection elsewhere. Elsewhere can be dangerous, damaging, devastating,” he said.

Just Posted

Man pleads guilty to Surrey crash that killed two Abbotsford women

Sarah Dhillon and Paige Nagata died following head-on collision on Nov. 4, 2018

VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: B.C. Horseshoe Association hosts Abbotsford tournament

B.C. International Highwayman Open runs on Saturday and Sunday

Fire breaks out in Abbotsford home

Crews were able to quickly douse the fire and save the structure

Recent food symposium aims to create ‘valley food culture’

Event held in Abbotsford drew 100 people form local food community

Man arrested after police standoff and fire at Abbotsford home

Suspect allegedly breached conditions to not be near victim or her home

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

On-duty Vancouver cop facing dangerous driving charges after cyclist hit

The woman was taken to hospital with minor injuries

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Growing coffee, tea, lemons and papayas in the Fraser Valley

‘Anything that is grown anywhere on the planet we can grow’

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Most Read