In 2020, OJEN received funding from the Department of Justice Canada’s Youth Justice Fund, to develop and pilot a justice education program for youth in custody or on probation. The program, Together 180, is nearing completion after a challenging and rewarding 3 years.
OJEN staff are currently delivering this multi-session program for a second time at Sprucedale Youth Centre, in Simcoe, Ontario. Over 8 sessions, youth are learning about areas of law that may affect them during rehabilitation and reintegration, such as employment, housing and human rights law. They are also building legal life skills and learning where to access reliable legal assistance and community-based support after their time in custody. Another important part of the program involves making connections with professionals in the justice sector. While building positive relationships with lawyers, police officers and others, you have an opportunity to share their perspectives on improving rehabilitation and reintegration for young people leaving custody.
As with many of OJEN’s Outreach programs, Together 180 benefits from the contributions of a Youth Leadership Team. These youth are selected for their skills and unique knowledge of the communities we serve. Nine Youth Leadership Team (YLT) members were hired to help develop and co-facilitate the Together 180 program. Some had previously participated in the program during their time in custody and several had recent involvement in the justice system. Their input was instrumental to the program’s success.
In addition to the sessions we delivered at Sprucedale Youth Centre, Together 180 took place at the William E. Hay Youth Centre in Ottawa, the Cecil Facer Youth Centre in Sudbury.and the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre in Brampton. When Together 180 ends at the end of December, we will have delivered the program 20 times to youth throughout Ontario.