Innovative runaway program gets investment
- EFN Staff | May 16, 2018
EGADZ Street Outreach’s innovative Operation Runaway received good news recently with major funding announcements coming from both the Home Depot Canada Foundation’s Orange Door Award Program and the Government of Saskatchewan.
“EGADZ Street Outreach is one of the most innovative community-based organizations in all of Canada, and we are so proud of the work we do with them to support vulnerable youth here in Saskatoon,” Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said. “I am pleased to announce we are providing $125,000 in operational funding for Operation Runaway this year to ensure this successful project continues to make a real difference in the lives of young people.”
Operation Runaway began based on a simple question: why aren’t we asking youth why they are running away, and what needs to change to stop them from doing so? This led to the creation of a non-traditional team approach to support young people in identifying the root causes of running, and then using positive support mechanisms to encourage changes in behavior.
“It’s amazing how many times I’ve heard from young people that this is the first time they really feel like anyone has asked them why they’re leaving, and where they’re running to,” EGADZ Executive Director Don Meikle said. “Operation Runaway uses support circles where we are able to show them that their voice and opinions matter, and then the team is able to come up with ideas and solutions for a home they will feel comfortable living in.”
According to Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper, they received over 3000 missing person calls a year.
“Unfortunately, that amount of calls exceeds our capacity. These cases are not just a police concern, it is a community concern,” said Chief Cooper. “We had ten children that ran away over 20 times last year. We need to work together as partners to reduce the amount of time and frequency that these youth are missing and we need our partners like Egadz to help us. That’s why we commit to bring our resources to make the situation better.”
The Home Depot Canada Foundation also announced funding for the program. Operation Runaway is one of seven recipients of their 2018 Orange Door Award Program that provides $25,000 grants to organizations working with homeless and at-risk youth across the country.
Prairie Mobile Communications also joins the project as an important corporate sponsor. The company provides donated cell phones to young people participating in the program. This allows the youth to reach out and connect to let people know they are safe, or if they need help.
Matthew, a member of the youth committee that advises Project Runaway, has found help through the program.
“They have helped me find counselling and health and dental care and helped me transition back to school part time,” said Matthew. “I intend to go full time next year. I had spent the last five years having to do everything alone. Now I don’t.”
“The success of Operation Runaway just shows that if you really listen to kids, and you demonstrate to them that they matter, we can help them help them make difference in their own lives,” Meikle said. “That’s why we are so pleased to see this kind of support coming from the community, from our partners and from the youth we’re serving.”