On the street help for troubled youth
By Jim Morrison
The first thing which strikes your eye is the swanky new Kia Sportage in the parking lot of the Pierrefonds Community Center this past Thursday, June 26.
Benoît Langevin, the general director of Action jeunesse de l’ouest de l’île (AJOI), proudly stands behind the driver’s door.
Kia Canada became part of the AJOI family by supplying the vehicle to the non-profit situated in Ste. Genevieve.
AJOI was on hand in saying goodbye to the outgoing Police commander, Station 3, Michel Wilson, after a distinguished 31-year career. Station 3 and AJOI work in unison, working with youths in leading productive lives.
Langevin has been with AJOI the past seven years. He has received recognition from Centraide of Greater Montreal, and awarded the Prize for Solidarity in 2012.
AJOI’s mission is to establish and maintain direct—on the street—intervention services for youth aged 12 to 30-years-old on the West Island.
Langevin sees firsthand the effects of child poverty.
“Eighteen percent of the West Island population under the age of 30 lives on some kind of social assistance,” said Langevin.
AJOI reaches out to the 15,500 plus contacts, through the guidance of their 22 youth/street workers.
The Youth Workers’ mission is to create and promote various sports and cultural activities where youths will be active in the community. They are there to prevent youth difficulties; violence, overdose, suicidal tendencies.
“Twenty percent of kids between the ages of 16-24 in the West Island have a type of mental health issue. This is a problem that people don’t like to talk about,” Langevin told The Suburban.
AJOI’s teaching tool is to provide respect, transparency, openness, solidarity and trust in programs which are accessible.
AJOI offered over six workshops the past several years, on rights and responsibility in the community.
The objective is to develop the feeling of safety in their neighborhood. This past year, AJOI initiated 52 sporting and cultural programs, which have reached 4,085 participants between the ages of 12-30. “I was the first youth/street worker, and now we are 22. That represents one worker for every 648 youths who are in crisis. It is good, but there is still work to be done,” added Langevin.
The energy and passion was evident as Langevin walked away from the interview, tending to another youth matter.
More information about AJOI can be viewed at www.ajoi.info/#!home/cxvj or by calling: 514-675-4450
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