John Howard Society of Durham Region
Mission: To reduce the impact of crime and its causes by providing a spectrum of effective prevention and intervention programs.
Main office: 905-579-8482, 75 Richmond Street West, Oshawa, Ontario, L1G 1E3

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Suspension Not Just a Holiday under New Program:

Suspension not just a holiday under new program

May 23, 2006
By Jennifer Stone

CLARINGTON -- Suspension from school won't just be a break for Catholic secondary students taking part in a program being offered through the local John Howard Society.

The Community Alternatives to School Suspension program will ensure students make contributions to the community, learn some life skills and work on academic materials.

"This is in response to the fact that kids are sitting at home during suspensions," said Crystal Forde, the program's facilitator. "The free time isn't being used effectively, and there are times when the students are getting into more trouble (during the time away from school). It's a positive alternative to suspension."

The program is running as a result of a $140,000 grant from the Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Ministry of Culture which is funded by money generated through Ontario's charity casinos. The three-year grant was made in November, 2005, and from the time when the program began in February, 14 students, suspended for five days or more, have participated.

Participation, which is voluntary, includes working with local businesses, such as catering companies, doing day trips to places like the Canadian Automotive Museum or local libraries, and other activities.

The goal is to put 100 students a year through the program, said Ms. Forde.

"We are really lucky to have such great community partnerships," she said. "Local businesses have welcomed us to help with painting, gardening and other business maintenance tasks. Since many of these students have never had a job, this community service allows them to build their résumés and establish relationships with local business owners."

Such a program is absolutely necessary, said Doug Finbow, principal of Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School in Courtice.

"There was a real need for an alternative to the suspension program in our community, since home suspensions were simply not benefitting students, and forcing parents to take time off work or risk their child getting into more trouble while home all day," he said in a media release.

For more information, or to propose a volunteer activity for the CASS program, call Ms. Forde at the Clarington Resource Centre at 905-623-6814.