My name is Phillip and I am one of the graduates from the Youth at Risk Development Program (YARD), one of six programs funded by the Calgary Police Foundation. When I was younger I was breaking into cars, stealing, smashing bus shelters, skipping school, and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Doing all this made me feel invincible because I got away with it.
It came to an end when I was caught shoplifting at Chinook Mall. Rather than throw me into jail and set my path down a criminal life, the Calgary Police did an assessment on me and I was placed in the YARD program. Constable Al was assigned to me. He knew my friends were a bad influence and the first step was to remove me from them. To do this, he found what I was interested in – track and field. He knew training would take up most of my time and take the focus off my friends.
Next were my grades. I was failing every class, but the worst was in English Language Arts, where I had a 19.4%. Constable Al organized a tutor for me, and my English grade skyrocketed to 84% by the end of the year. Having said that, I was presented with the Reed Improvement Award for being the most improved student in school.
Another thing Constable Al did was to get me into therapy to rebuild my relationship with my mom. It was difficult for my mom and I to communicate because of all the trouble I had caused her. The therapy helped heal our relationship and now we are closer than ever. I continued with Track and Field and my grades improved tremendously each year. I won both city and provincial championships for hurdles in high school.
My life has continued down the road to success. I am currently in my last year of chemical engineering with a minor in petroleum engineering at the University of Calgary and I couldn’t be happier. I am so thankful that the Calgary Police saw potential in me – enough so to place me into the YARD program, funded by the Calgary Police Foundation.
It has truly helped shape who I am today and I know my life would have taken a much darker path if it were not for the people who helped me most. The very people I used to tempt with catching me.