The Scared Straight trip, which took 27 Metlakatla youth to Vancouver for a week this past Spring, was packed full of useful experiences and fun.
The trip provided great opportunities to bond for chaperones and students alike, with youth living in Metlakatla and Prince Rupert making strong connections.
“I came in not knowing anyone, and I’m leaving having made friends for life,” one youth commented.
The first day started off strong, with youth getting to experience two of Vancouver’s long-time institutions: the Downtown East Side and the Vancouver Canucks.
Youth were first introduced to Vancouver’s Odd Squad, a crew of Vancouver Police Officers who have worked on the Downtown East Side for several years. The Odd Squad spoke to them about the hazards of drug use, and took the youth to witness drug use first hand on a tour of the Downtown East Side. They were also introduced to an ex-gang member who shared his story of crime, drugs and incarceration.
To lighten up the day, youth got to watch a Canucks game from a suite at Rogers Arena—and were treated afterwards to a stretch limo ride to Mount Seymour to view the skyline.
Day two was filled with workshops that covered awareness about HIV and hepatitis, self-esteem, healthy sexuality, and the impacts of social media that can follow youth into adulthood. After a tasty lunch at the Spaghetti Factory, youth and chaperones visited the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) an aboriginal organization that caters to the needs of youth. UNYA showed the youth what services are available to help youth and adults alike that have suffered tragedy and/or trauma move into leading a healthier lifestyle. Afterwards, youth expressed interest in creating a similar space at home to hang out and feel safe.
The third day youth spent some time doing their homework, and then touring the University of British Columbia. Their guided tour informed them about programs and services available to First Nations students, and how to attend an orientation. The day finished up with a trip to Extreme Air trampoline world.
For their final day, youth volunteered at a soup kitchen where they were split into shifts preparing food, serving meals, and cleaning. The day ended at Science World, where youth challenged themselves with puzzles scattered around the facility.
Metlakatla youths Dylan Bolton and Quinn Leighton both attended, and both said it would make them think twice about the decisions they make in life.
“The trip was pretty great,” Bolton said.
“It was a good learning experience.”
When asked what they learned from the trip, the boys said they learned that drug use could lead to homelessness and addiction, as compared to going to school to make something of life and be successful.
Since the trip, staff have hosted a pizza and gym night in Prince Rupert with the youth to brainstorm ideas for a youth group and a potential safe space in Prince Rupert where they can go to hang out, talk, do homework, play games, and be themselves.