Toronto’s Peacebuilders (Charitable Reg BN838776524RR0001) delivers restorative justice programs to support vulnerable youth under 18. Peacebuilders’ vision is “Youth realizing their full potential and building safe and peaceful communities.” Peacebuilders’ Court program has diverted over 1,100 youth out of the justice system without lawyers, had all their charges withdrawn, easily saving taxpayers over $45,000,000 at a cost of $5,000 per youth. Any donations will be applied to support other youth through this program. The website is: www.peacebuilders.ca.
The story below is from a youth who successfully completed Peacebuilders’ court diversion program:
“As a young kid from Scarborough I grew up in metro housing around drug dealers and gang violence in a broken home yet with a lot to be thankful for, but I failed to appreciate it at such a young age and I got into bad company.
I was introduced to Peacebuilders’ circles program when I ran into trouble with the law and was charged. Luckily they had an office in the courthouse, it was easy to meet them. I had to attend weekly sessions for 6 months. I was devastated at first, but little did I know that these 6 months would change my life for the better.
My experience with Peacebuilders from the first interaction was amazing. There was a whole community to help you. I was told that if I attend circles every week, I would be given tokens and pizza - pretty encouraging. At the weekly peer-group LOT (Leaders of Tomorrow) circles we were empowered with new knowledge, an opportunity to express our feelings, and have support in a safe place. LOT circles really showed me that I wasn’t alone as other youth also had problems.
After completing LOT, I moved onto individual circles with several circle-keeper volunteers who took time out of their lives to facilitate the restorative process. This was special. I brought my dad to one of the circles so that I could graduate from the program. I heard his thoughts and feelings about the situation that I was in. I shared my thoughts and feelings as well which brought a broken father-son relationship closer together, changed the dynamic of our relationship for the positive and really changed how we communicate. Upon the completion of the LOT Circles and individual circles, I graduated from the program. Since I showed significant potential and recorded improvement to the courts all the charges against me were dropped.
With this second chance, I became interested in finding out what type of jobs I could eventually get so that I could pay for day to day necessities and look after myself. I finished high school and became interested in opportunities in the business world. I went on to study Business Administration at Seneca College.
My experience with Peacebuilders taught me a lot, kept me out of trouble growing up and has made me a better person. Your support will enable Peacebuilders to help many other youth like me to get back to school, on track and succeed.”
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