Taking hope to the streets
By Jim Morrison
Benoît Langevin, the general director of Action jeunesse de l’ouest de l’île (AJOI), has been a busy man in recent months. The Suburban caught up with him at his Ste. Geneviève office.
Langevin was just in Toronto nominated by Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, Member of Parliament of Pierrefonds-Dollard, for the Everyday Political Citizen award, sponsored by Samara Canada. The commendation is aimed to highlight and honor the efforts of Canadians who are involved in their community by encouraging citizen participation and interest in politics.
Samara Canada is a charitable organization working to revitalize political participation and celebrate the un-sung heroes of Canadian democracy.
Langevin has been with AJOI the past seven years. He received recognition from Centraide of Greater Montreal and was awarded the Prize for Solidarity in 2012.
AJOI’s mission is to improve the quality of life of young people and break the denial of poverty in the West Island.
Langevin sees first hand 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 25,000 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 young people will be active in the community. They are there to prevent violence, drug abuse and suicides.
“Twenty per cent of kids between the ages of 16-24 in The West Island have some 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 encourage respect, transparency, openness, solidarity and trust in programs which are accessible.
AJOI offered over six workshops the past several years on rights and responsibilities in the community. The objective was to develop the feeling of safety in neighbourhoods.
AJOI has initiated 424 sporting and cultural activities during the past six months doubling the previous year, while reaching 5,634 participants who don’t necessarily fit into conventionally organized or elite sports.
“The big challenge is finding free space to hold these programs. Fifteen thousand after school hours are needed in running these functions,” added Langevin.
The energy and passion was evident as Langevin exited the interview to coordinate another function.
More information about AJOI is available at: www.ajoi.info or by calling  675-4450.
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