By Gerald V. Paul
The province’s new coordinated plan sets out 20”outcomes” and support tools for 18 ministries working with youth in a continued effort to stem Toronto gun violence, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Stepping Up: A strategic Framework to Help Ontario’s Youth Succeed, provides a list of concrete outcomes that will aid policy development for 18 government ministries that serve youth, in an effort to ensure that the most needy young people across the province get the support and services they need to be healthy and make smart choices.
Targeted goals include: making sure youth have safe spaces where they can hang out; that they’re physically and mentally well; have the tools they need for academic successes, and a feel a sense of safety in their communities. Meaningful employment opportunities and healthy relations with caregivers are also on the list.
“It’s unfortunate that it took (gun violence) to get the collective ear to the ground,” said Lekan Olawoye, Chair of the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities, a key contributor to the strategy’s development.
The initiative is being unveiled weeks before the first anniversary of the mass shooting at a Danzig St. barbecue in Scarborough that killed two and injured 23.
“I’ve called mothers, and supported mothers who had to bury their children. That stuff is not okay,” said Olawoye, who is also Executive Director of For Youth Intiative, which works with youth in Toronto’s Weston-Mount Dennis priority area.
Gleaned from previous reports on roots of youth violence and then some, the 20 outcomes are grouped into categories: health, families, education, employment, diversity, engagement and communities. Minister of Children and Youth Services Teresa Piruzza says the strategy is a call for co-operation and action.
“Stepping Up strengthens our government’s commitment to young, people, identifies our priorities and will guide our decision-making.” Said Piruzza.
Stepping Up also features input from Dr. Alvin Curling, Piruzza’s strategic Advisor on Youth Opportunities and co-author of the Roots report, which detailed factors that push youth toward violence.