Written by Cydney Hall, Youth Worker , Crowfoot YMCA.
It is my pleasure to announce that Crowfoot YMCA’s pilot project for the Alternative Suspension Program officially began in May of this year.
The Alternative Suspension program was started to provide a fresh environment and support for students in high school that are at-risk of suspension or have been suspended for a duration of 3-5 days. The objective is to support youth in their transition back into school through developing personal and academic skills, which is often missed in the traditional out-of-school suspension.
Through schoolwork support, workshops and one-on-one meetings with myself, the Youth Worker, youth have the opportunity to explore their goals, both school-related and personal, and develop their success plan for a positive re-integration back into school as well as other communities they are involved with. The program places a strong emphasis on partnership with the student’s school and their parents, developing a committed team dedicated to each youth’s success.
To date, five youth have participated in the program and two have been re-referred to provide additional support and resources for their exceptional cases. It has been amazing to journey with each youth throughout their participation and watch them create their own success stories through their hard work, willingness to engage and recognition of abilities.
The following is one youth’s account of their experience while in the program. I asked them to describe what they learned and completed as well as what they would have done during their time spent in the program if the program wasn’t available.
“I spent my time getting extra credits to improve my school year, also Cydney taught me how to better deal with my emotions and how to play a different version of jeopardy.
Cydney is definitely the right person for this job because she is understanding, knows when to push you to finish work and also when you can’t focus and need a little break. If I had my pick this would be my school of choice because I work best in a quiet environment and this program has provided me with that.
Without Alternative Suspension I would not have come back to school and might have even dropped out, I would be at home playing Xbox.”
– Grade 10 student, Age 15
I think it is important to highlight that it is the resiliency and strength of each youth participating in the Alternative Suspension program that truly makes it successful. The balance of school support with workshops facilitates a space where youth are encouraged to develop a positive attitude towards school, and where some laughter and jeopardy games occur along the way!
With this promising start it is exciting to look ahead to the next school year and the experiences that will emerge from it.
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