Victoria/Abbotsford – Students, parents, educators, law enforcement and local partners in 12 B.C. communities will immediately begin receiving additional support and training opportunities to help at-risk kids get off the pathway to gun and gang violence, with a $1.12-million investment from the Province.

The funding supports the new ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) school-based gang prevention program. It will be offered in priority communities identified by police and safety experts as those that could benefit from additional gang prevention support. Communities include Abbotsford, Burnaby, Delta, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria and Williams Lake. The program will see the creation and delivery of new training and intensive supports focused on gun and gang violence awareness and prevention, and will also include the creation of resources for classroom teachers.

Funding will go to the B.C. School Superintendents Association (BCSSA), supporting districts in 12 priority communities to partner with the Boys Club Network. The Boys Club Network is a B.C.-based non-profit organization that works with school districts and community partners to create safe spaces for boys aged 12-19. Through the partnership, after-school programs will be set up (where they do not already exist), and new local secondary school elective courses will be created, focused on connecting teenage boys with positive adult role models and providing leadership and career development opportunities.

Stan Petersen, chair, Abbotsford Board of Education —“The Abbotsford community continues to face challenges with ongoing gang conflicts that involve some Abbotsford students. We are pleased to see a portion of this funding coming directly to our community for specialized programming and education, serving our students who need additional support and access to resources.”

The BCSSA will also use the funding to provide 2,200 students, 1,500 parents and 2,500 educators, law enforcement officials and representatives of community-based organizations with an opportunity to participate in gang prevention and awareness education and training sessions.

The sessions will be provided by Safer Schools Together, the Ministry of Education’s service-delivery partner for ERASE.

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