March 7, 2011

CALGARY — St. Mary's University is proud to be the first post-secondary institution in Calgary to work with the Calgary Police Service in an early intervention program to keep kids out of gangs.

Since September, three bachelor of education students from St. Mary's have volunteered their time to work with at-risk youth twice a week through the Youth at Risk Development (YARD) program.

In September, the Calgary Police Service approached St. Mary's University College to gauge interest among students in the education program in mentoring youth at risk of gang involvement.


The students — Karen Fischer, Kevin Legare and Teri-Lynn Ryan — have been tutoring the youths, helping them with homework and serving as positive role models.

"We are very proud of our student teachers who have given their time and energy to work with the YARD program over the last several months," said Linda Dudar, director of St. Mary's education program.

"These students recognize the need for assisting young people and the tremendous contribution they are making to the community. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Calgary Police Service."

Launched in 2009, YARD is a community-based early intervention initiative that supports youth, ages 10 to 17, who are at risk of gang involvement.

YARD teams, consisting of a police officer and a registered social worker, work closely with youth, their families, schools and community agencies to help youth at risk avoid or escape the gang lifestyle.

The pilot program is delivered in partnership with the Calgary Police Service and the City of Calgary's community and neighbourhood services.

The two-year after degree bachelor of education (elementary) program was introduced at St. Mary's University in 2008. It is the only degree of its kind in Canada that specifically prepares teachers for Catholic schools.