This inspirational story of one youth from our LifePlan Coaching Program (we will call him Sam to protect his identity) is a real testament to the power of this program and coaching in being able to turn around young people who are on the brink of becoming potential career criminals. LifePlan is a customizable one of a kind Program that gives seriously troubled and repeat offender youth the required guidance, structure and capacity to achieve goals and make positive choices that put them on the right track towards becoming healthy, productive and law-abiding citizens.
When Sam was first picked up by the Police on serious charges he was 15, not attending school, getting high and breaking into cars with his older Cousin. Sam lived with his young and troubled single Mother and did not have any structure, guidance or positive role models around in his home life. Just think, at such a young age Sam was on a crash course to becoming a career criminal and was already caught up in the Youth Justice System. Over the next few years Sam spent his time in and out of detention (was diagnosed with anger issues and had frequent and violent outbursts) with short periods of relative stability but always ending up back into his old ways of stealing and he also began dealing drugs. Sam was going no where but down; victimizing his community and becoming a serious burden on the justice system. With his constant dealings with the police, appearances in court and periods of incarceration followed by probation, Sam was becoming the revolving door offender that would eventually cost the system hundreds of thousands of dollars if he was to stay on this downward spiral of destructive behaviour.
Until one day when Sam was before an enlightened Judge at the 311 Jarvis Youth Court in downtown Toronto. He was 17, serving time in an open custody setting and dealing with his most recent charges involving possession of drugs and being arrested in a stolen car; the Judge turned to him and told him he was being referred to the PACT LifePlan Coaching Program as part of a 12 month probation order. Luckily the Judge saw something in Sam, a spark of serious potential; he was literally giving him a last chance before he turned 18, after which point, if he was arrested and charged with a crime, he would likely be lost to the adult justice system forever.
After a comprehensive intake process, Sam was matched up with a PACT Life Coach and began weekly coaching sessions at the open custody secure group home. Coaching and positive movement forward is all about the baby steps and building trust and rapport between Client and Coach. This process takes time but this is also when the real magic can happen. Helping the Client explore their own potential and vision for their lives, and giving them the structure and positive reinforcement to set and accomplish goals no matter how small (we call these baby steps) and than providing acknowledgement, is the secret to effective coaching with these difficult and challenging youth. Remember, Sam came from a deplorable and negative environment of instability with little love and attention, having an objective non judgemental and caring ally in his corner was something very new for him. In the end, the trust and bond he was able to establish with his Life Coach helped him to take control of his own life and achieve more than he could have ever imagined.
It wasn’t smooth sailing and there were definitely some bumps along the way (we were working with an angry and troubled young man at the beginning), but Sam remained crime free while in the PACT Program (a major success indicator in itself) and was able to achieve some significant and impressive goals over the 12 months he was in the Program. He obtained full ID, set-up a bank account, completed an anger mgmt. program, is currently studying for his GED (high school equivalency), completed his community service hours for Court with PACTBuild (our woodworking project) and obtained some part time work. He is also starting to look at transitioning to a more long term and stable living situation. The support, acknowledgement and guidance he received from his PACT Coach has given him the confidence, self esteem and tools he needs to move forward and make productive and positive life decisions. And Sam still calls his Coach from time to time to check in or ask a question.
Just think, we as taxpayers could still be paying the bill to have Sam locked up, but instead, he is on his way to becoming a productive and contributing member of society.