This past Monday, I had the opportunity to speak to the Justice Inquiry class of grade 12 students at North Delta Secondary School.
I am honoured to have been invited to partner up with KidsPlay Foundation and be given this incredible responsibility to speak with the youth about the Gang related lifestyle.
Many of you already know my story and how I got to doing what I do now.
Some of you don’t.
See, I lived a good portion of my youth life from high school until around my early 20’s in a gang related world. And this meant gangs, drugs and guns were an everyday part of my lifestyle.
It was a world of violence, crime and hopelessness. It was about taking from others. And it was about living in fear and insecurity.
There is nothing of true value in that lifestyle. There is no solid ground and it only helps you forget who you are.
It’s all smoke and mirrors, and I fell for it.
One of the most difficult things for me to do after I decided to get out of that lifestyle was to be myself again and become a productive and giving member of society.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. It was covered up under all the beliefs I had gathered.
Like a fish that’s never been out of water. I felt out of water. Incredibly alone and challenged.
And so I kept going back to that lifestyle.
It took me many long years, failed attempts and confusing decisions that came from my distorted perception of how life worked before I finally became free from that lifestyle and was able to integrate myself into becoming a value to the people and society around me.
I carried a huge amount of guilt and shame for all things in that life and I kept it swept under the rug for years.
I’ve spoke about my story on many occasions before. At talks I’ve given, at groups I have created and people I’ve worked with.
However, this was the first time I have spoken to the youth inside their own school.
It’s an honour to speak with the kids that face, firsthand, the illusory temptations of that lifestyle everyday. The age that is most vulnerable to that path.
The youth are clearly facing a problem here in Vancouver.
And more so recently, we’ve seen an explosion of this gang lifestyle that only brings with it possibilities of becoming disconnected and disengaged.
It leaves our society with confusion and fear about the up and coming generation, and it leaves highly capable youth with limitless potential for themselves either with an early end of their lives, or incarceration.
KidsPlay Foundation has created an empowering avenue that invites the youth to get involved in organized sports and educational opportunities completely Free of cost as a way of preventing them from entering this destructive lifestyle, and gives them a true sense of belonging that we all look for at that age.
Kal Dosanjh, the founder of Kids Play, who is an active member of The Vancouver Police Department as a detective, and has served with the VPD for the last 19 years - Karen Toor, the Vice President of the foundation, who has put in over 40,000 hours of volunteer work within the community in the last few years, and their team of dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide these opportunities for the youth to build bridges with adults and connect with other youth, while developing their leadership skills and sportsmanship which allows them to see the possibilities of their future and blossom into their own potential and capabilities.
Over the last few years, Kids Play Foundation has put over 40,000 children through their programs with many of them having full scholarships to pursue the studies of their choice and have a purposeful life that’s meaningful to them.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the youth with my experiences, but I am ten times, if not one-hundred times more grateful, that an organization like Kids Play Foundation exists for the youth today.
If there was something like this when I was young, perhaps I could have avoided the confusion and destruction that the gang related lifestyle brings.
I would’ve never thought that I would be working with a Police Officer, but when I met Kal back in November 2017 and got to learn more about what he is doing for the youth and the community, it was a no brainer to get involved.
What I personally love most about what Kids Play Foundation, is that there is no agenda that is pushed on the kids. They are not directing the youth to what the foundation thinks would be better. They simply provide support in the ways that the kids need most. They provide a community for the youth to connect and engage in sports, and possibilities to expand themselves for their own future.
I have a deep respect for what Kids Play is doing for the community and the way they enable the youth and their potential.
Thank you Kal for creating something of such incredible value for the community.
I also have a great respect for the teachers in the schools that are willing to allow this kind of education for their students.
The class that we spoke with were so thoughtful that they even gave us some swag as a token of appreciation.
I am now officially recruited as a Husky. :)