CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The doors are closing on a youth centre in Albert Park that helped kids walk away from gangs but why the shutdown and what’s left for youth in this community?
A program for youth to keep them out of gangs, sex trade work and off the streets is shutting down one of its centres in a community that needs it most and with the concerns around increasing violence in the area, this closure isn’t helping.
“70 kids registered here every year, it’s been gaining interest,” said Executive Director of the Cornerstone Youth Centre, Jeff Gray. “It takes a long time to get trust from kids to come here.”
The free centre has been in Calgary for over 20 years and opened a second location in Albert Park in the summer of 2018. It offered a safe space after school, tutoring and life skills for kids in grades six to nine.
Thank You for the support. https://t.co/Dkrxfdyqih
— Cornerstone Youth Centre (@CornerstoneYYC) January 21, 2020
The closure came on Jan. 17 citing low donations and the inability to rent the space as the cause.
“I spent 730 days when I was a teen, homeless and couch surfing, and sleeping out of my van,” said Gray. “That would have been a lot longer if it weren’t for a handful of caring adults and the centre they belong to that taught me the life skills that we teach here. I was lucky enough there was support when I needed it. These kids don’t have that anymore and that’s really sad.”
Cornerstone will continue to run its main location in Mayland Heights in the northeast and most of the kids are committed to going there by bus, which will be coming from a portion of the youth centre’s budget.
There are also concerns about who will take care of the space and these kids.
“The dream solution (is) we can find enough funding to operate a space that’s inviting of other agencies that can partner with us.”