Today the City of Surrey’s Community Safety section launched a new website dedicated to helping parents, caregivers and other trusted adults build protective factors among Surrey children and youth to reduce their susceptibility for gang involvement.
Called Empower Surrey, the website aims to enhance the impact of the Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment (SAFE) Program and is available in over 80 languages. It features information on Surrey’s unique gang landscape, how to identify and address risk factors, tips and tools to start early conversations with children and youth, and links to free prevention, intervention and enforcement programs available to Surrey residents.
Development of the website was informed by more than 100 Surrey youth aged 14 to 19 who, through focus groups, surveys and online meetings held during the fall of 2020, provided feedback and insights into the challenges they face at school, home and in the community.
“In B.C., gangs target children as young as 10 years old from a variety of demographic, geographic, and socio-economic environments,” said Brian Aasebo, Community Safety manager for the City’s Parks, Recreation & Culture department. “Being well informed on this topic in elementary school provides an opportunity to start the conversation early and begin building protective factors that help maintain strong connections through adolescence—a time when youth typically begin to exert independence and explore relationships with people outside of their family.”
With $51,837 in funding from a Civil Forfeiture grant secured in 2020 from British Columbia’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, over 14 external partners contributed directly to the project including: the Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team, RCMP E Division Counter Exploitation Unit, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC, Dr. Keiron McConnell, Fraser Health, Mavins Media, Mediated Reality, Yo Bro l Yo Girl Youth Initiative, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, Options Community Services Society, Pacific Community Resources Society, Simon Fraser University, Solid State Community Industries, and Surrey Schools.
Visit Empower Surrey at empowersurrey.ca.