Langley Youth Need More Connections to Adults: Community Forum

December 5, 2019

Members of the Langley community who work closely with youth, gathered at a community forum aimed at developing collaborative strategies to keep youth healthy and safe. The forum, which was hosted by the Langley School District, comes just a few months after tragedies impacted the school community. The theme of the event was “Taking Responsibility.”

“Our job, the only job, is to ensure we take care of our youth and tonight is an opportunity to do that,” said Mal Gill, Assistant Superintendent of the Langley School District.

He mentioned how encouraged he was to see the banquet hall at the Langley Events Centre filled with representatives from more than 30 community agencies and Parent Advisory Council members. There were RCMP school liaison officers, politicians from all levels of government, and non-profit professionals from organizations across the community in the room together.

A small group of community agencies led by the Langley School District began a journey in September to identify issues affecting youth. Themes that surfaced included substance use, disconnected youth, appropriate social media use, and creating an ethic of care. As part of this process, the District held a youth forum in November to ask students questions and “just let them talk.”

“Kids want connections with adults. They want to be connected to people in schools and the community. Some kids say they don’t have anyone,” explained Renge Bailie, District Principal of Student Support Services. She summarized other key points heard from youth at the recently held feedback session, including difficulty accessing resources, and a lack of information on mental health and substance use.

“The important step is that we’re going to report back to them after tonight,” said Cpl. Craig Van Herk, head of the Langley RCMP Youth Section who has been a leader in this initiative.

Attendees worked in groups, brainstorming ideas to help tackle the three main concerns identified: connecting youth with adults, accessing resources, and offering mental health and substance use information.

Many ideas were generated, including providing free bus passes and starting up youth-led coffee shops to create safe spaces for kids.

Organizers will be taking the information back to a small group of community partners, that will then develop an action plan.

Langley RCMP Superintendent Murray Power told the group that the forum was monumental for the community of Langley.

“You are going to leave an impression on Langley and you will have made a difference. All of you should feel a part of this change,” he said.