I have been profoundly encouraged by the work being done at the Kilburn Hall Youth Detention Centre. Many of you might not actually know that I get to work with incarcerated youth once a week, but it has honestly become a huge highlight for me. I work on the worst unit of the centre, most of the kids have committed serious crimes and are locked away for a very long time.
Now when most people think of jail, they think of it exactly like that, "locked away." These kids are the unwanted and unmentionables of society which we have shut the doors on and essentially kept out of trouble. So... That's what most people think, but I have seen an incredibly different world in there.
I get to go there, hang out, play some sports, and hear their stories.
The workers there legitimately care about the kids. And you might not think that this is a big deal but how do you think such young kids end up in terrible situations? I can assure you with the few stories I've heard that many of these kids were rarely ever loved or cared for.
One got hooked on meth after he bought laced weed at the age of 10. Another ended up in the foster system early where the longest he's ever lived at one house (other than Kilburn) was three months. And yet another, at the age of 9, discovered his mother hanging the day after he and his brother stood helpless, as a man broke into his house and violated her.
So who's left to legitimately care for these kids after they've been hooked on drugs and witness things that make your heart stop? It's heartbreaking to see how helpless some of them were when they began the journey down the dark road they ended up on.
But they have help now. The workers there are trying exceptionally hard to instill value in these kids. I've watched these kids smile. I've watched them light up as we play volleyball, or badminton, as the workers congratulate them on a good serve or a good hit. And there is where it dawns on me.
Some of these kids have NEVER been encouraged. Ever.
Maybe they've been encouraged for a job well done on a gang mission, but that's not the same. You don't get a good feeling when you commit evil acts. God designed the world that way. It's when you do legitimately good things or act within your gifting that you actually get the opportunity to feel God's sense of good that was meant to encourage you forward.
There are a couple kids there right now I met through floor hockey... One moved away to the reserve and got into trouble. Another got in with the wrong crowd and ended up in trouble.
At least I know they're safe (weirdly enough), it could have been worse.
I just wanted to share that this is one area I feel things really are going well. They're actually trying to heal these kids. They're going after root causes rather than the symptoms and it really is changing these kids. Good work is being done and it's bringing hope and identity to kids, drastically changing what could have been terrible into potential.