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Touchstone gets $210,000 for Street Smarts Project

Touchstone Family Association’s Street Smarts Project has received $210,000 to continue its prevention work with young people who may be at risk of joining a gang.

Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond made the  announcement at Touchstone last week as a total of 185 community groups, local governments and  policing agencies are sharing $5.5 million to help reduce youth involvement in gangs, prevent violence against women and children, and further crime prevention. The money is available thanks to a record year of civil forfeiture proceeds, Bond said.

Touchstone’s Street Smarts Project serves youth referred by probation  officers, school counselors, and past participants who themselves are now session leaders. Twelve-week group sessions and one-on-one  mentorship focus on life skills, personal goals and barriers youth  face in seeking jobs, academic success, and peers and friends who are not criminally involved.

“This funding will bring new stability and energy to our work,” said Judy Valsonis, director of operations, Touchstone Family Association.  “It  means being able to plan ahead, let youth know in advance that we’ll  be running sessions throughout the year, and we can strengthen the  program and materials we use. More importantly, it will assist in building a healthy community for everyone.”

This is the largest grant program that has been offered and was  possible due to exceptional growth in the proceeds generated through  B.C.’s six-year-old civil forfeiture program during 2011-12. The  grant process began with a call for applications in February.

“Our successful civil forfeiture program ensures that crime doesn’t  pay in British Columbia,” Bond said.

“The record proceeds have allowed almost 200  organizations and communities to benefit and use innovative public  safety initiatives to focus on prevention, education and action. It  is very encouraging to see the dedication and hard work being done right across the province.”

“Most of what civil forfeiture takes away has links to drugs and gang and organized crime,” said Richmond Centre MLA Rob Howard. “So it’s very fitting that this large grant to  Touchstone—and others like it—are helping families and  communities to reach out to their young people, get involved in their  lives in meaningful ways and help to steer and support them toward  positive goals and outcomes in their lives.”

The full list of grant recipients is at www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/crimeprevention/grants/index.htm

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