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Fostering, Empowering, Advocating, Together for children of incarcerated parents
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Peer Mentorship Project

Our Peer Mentorship project is designed to optimize the psychological, social, and educational outcomes of at-risk children and youth who have a family member that has been in conflict with the law by facilitating the development of leadership and mentorship skills, building positive peer relationships, increasing self-esteem and fostering academic success. Children and youth affected by familial criminality and imprisonment experience a traumatic abandonment by a fundamental role model that often results in compromised self-esteem, school truancy and decline in academic achievement, and the adoption of anti- social attitudes and delinquent behaviours which only elevates the risk of engaging in  youth crime. Our project focuses on skill development and providing positive role models while reducing anti-social attitudes and behaviours to help empower at-risk children and youth in Toronto neighbourhoods to reduce the cycle of intergenerational crime.

FEAT provides the free Peer Mentorship Project for three hours, once a week for children, (6-9 years), youth (10-14 years) and teens (15-19) affected by familial criminality and imprisonment in high risk neighbourhoods in Toronto. Our project provides direct intervention by facilitating at-risk youth to develop leadership and mentoring skills, receive one-on-one academic support, and build a positive peer support network. The design of our project serves to build resilience, increase social skills, and healthy coping strategies through participation in a variety of team-building activities and games, engaging in peer group discussion, and organizing community improvement projects to strengthen our communities. As cooking is a therapeutic and skill-building activity and children affected by familial incarceration are often inflicted with economic hardship preventing accessibility to healthy food, our project will include a cooking component in Team FEAT as a team, youth help to plan, purchase, prepare and enjoy nutritious snacks and a family-style dinner each week during the project.

The success of our Peer Mentorship Project has reached national attention through the Global and Mail article titled Providing Role Models for the Children of Jailed Parents. The article can be found at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/providing-role-models-for-the-children-of-jailed-parents/article16118308/

Impact

  • Children have demonstrated an increase in self-esteem and use of healthy coping strategies
  • Youth have shown an increase in social skills, life skills, and leadership development
  • Our program has demonstrated to reduce feelings of social isolation and promote positive peer relationships
  • Our Peer Mentorship Project has shown to increase school attendance, improve academic achievement, increase rates of employment and promote school retention among at-risk youth