Troy is a Youth Mentor
A degree in Child and Youth Study prepares graduates for newly created job opportunities that arise when new programs for children and youth are developed. Troy’s job as a Youth Mentor with the Youth Justice Team did not exist two years ago. The new Intensive Rehabilitation Program was developed between the Department of Justice and the IWK Department of Mental Health to serve youth between 12 and 20 years old who are serving sentences at the Waterville Youth Correctional Facility.
When young people commit very serious crimes, the IWK Youth Justice Team examines their cases to decide whether they are appropriate candidates for Intensive Rehabilitation sentencing. If so, the IWK takes over the case. Troy explains that due to the serious nature of the crimes these young people have committed, they receive long sentences and must see psychologists, psychiatrists, a mentor, youth worker and other specialists as a part of the intensive rehabilitation.
As a member of the Intensive Rehabilitation Team, Troy’s role as mentor is to build a relationship with these youth, to be a friend, advocate and confidante.
He begins by visiting them at the Waterville facility once or twice a week so they get to know each other. He works with other team members and the correctional staff to gradually reach a point where all stakeholders are comfortable with him accompanying youth on day trips outside the facility. It takes time to build a trusting relationship and it may be more than a year before Troy takes the youth he is mentoring out into the community on a weekly basis. Outings include movies, basketball games, football games, bowling, going to restaurants or anything productive in the community that allows the youth opportunities to reintegrate and experience the normal side of life in society. “I keep it based on what they like and what they’re interested in,” says Troy.
By the time Troy becomes involved in their lives, these youth have already served several years in a correctional facility so just going outside into the community is a major event for them. Troy describes the ‘moments’ as the most rewarding part of his job. “Getting them to be able to walk out for the first time in years is definitely a wow moment,” he smiles.
Since the correctional system and the IWK Youth Justice System are separate entities, Troy says the greatest challenge of the job, is to balance the priorities of both the Department of Justice and the IWK Mental Health Department.
“When I left the Mount I felt confident and felt ready to go into the workforce,” says Troy. “There are a many opportunities to work with youth in various capacities and you just have to search for the right one.”