A second chance for drop-outs

Published September 1, 1998

A London, Ont., church is helping to guide young drop-outs back to school or to work.

“We’re not pushing the Gospel but we’re pushing values and community,” says Archdeacon Archie Skirving of St. James (Westminster).

The church received a $100,000 grant last year from Human Resources Development Canada to hire for six months 12 unemployed people aged 18 to 24 and two supervisors. That program was such a success their second application to work with 10 young people and two supervisors this year was approved.

The young people are paid $200 a week for working with three groups: other youths, seniors and business.

The youths visit seniors in nearby apartment buildings and try to return to them a sense of community.

They have held coffee nights with youths in the community and helped out at a street dance. They were responsible for the lighting of the Christmas tree in south London and a Canada Day celebration.

“It gives them a sense of their own well-being and self-identity, a sense that they have value and can do things,” Archdeacon Skirving said.

Many of the youths have returned to school or found work since the programs ended.

Archdeacon Skirving said the church plans to continue the program in some form, even if it receives no more funding.


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