Armoury Youth Centre gives at-risk youth daytime refuge
The people who run a youth centre are hoping new programs for at-risk youth in a new building will help prevent the kind of situation that led to the murder of an Edmonton teen four years ago.
Nina Courtepatte, 13, was at West Edmonton Mall, a favourite daytime hangout for troubled kids, when she was lured to her death in 2005.
One of the women convicted in Courtepatte's death, Stephanie Bird, had her manslaughter conviction elevated to first-degree murder on Friday.
It's the kind of story that fuelled the Youth Emergency Society's drive to create the Armoury Youth Centre in downtown Edmonton, said Brad Pickford, assistant program manager for the Y.E.S.
"It's always a worry that our kids will our kids are going to be featured on the news as the most recent victims of violence," he said.
Currently, the only safe haven between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. for at-risk young people is the Youth Emergency Centre on 82nd Avenue.
The new facility is open during the day, and offers troubled youth between the ages of 15 and 21 everything from pool tables and computer access to anger management classes and work skills - things young people have told the emergency workers they need.
Partner agencies and people in the community have noticed a drop in the number of transient youth since the Armoury program started in late September, he said.
"As opposed to cruising at malls, as opposed to getting victimized," Pickford said, "our idea is that if they're here, then they're not out there getting put at more risk — and hopefully learning some skills."