Taking Action to Achieve Growth & Success (TAAGS) is finishing up its second year of programming in Scarborough- Agincourt Community Services Association is very excited about the impact the program is having in the lives of youth in Scarborough and we look forward to witnessing further successes in 2016 .
TAAGS works with young people aged 12-24 who are currently, or at risk of, becoming negatively involved with peers and communities increasing their chances of becoming violence involved and steering them away from achieving their ultimate potential.
Many of the young people we support either are, or have, experienced dire circumstances placing themselves, their family and/or community in unsafe or dangerous circumstances. Some young men have serious charges- are involved in gun violence, assaults, drug and human trafficking, ‘gang’ related violence inside and across communities in Scarborough and have historical disengagement from positive influences, engagement in academics or positive social, skill building activities. Young women are the victims of violence, human trafficking and witness to the negative interactions and lifestyles of those around them. They experience a lack of safety influencing their own children- with many involved or apprehended by local Children’s Aid Societies. They struggle to regulate their emotions, displaying signs of anxiety, post traumatic stress and anger. Young men and women experience un/misdiagnosed mental health challenges and an overall lack of faith in the agencies, programs and many services built to intervene in their challenges.
TAAGS provides prevention and intervention support— some of the youth involved require intensive interventions that seek to create productive, pro social change in their lives. This can include legal supports, housing relocation, clinical therapy, safety planning and family focused interventions. Often, many of the youth are on the cusp of negative activities and gain immense benefit from mentorship, connection to social programming like employment and skill based activities and increased engagement with family to create plans for achieving growth and success.
TAAGS believes the more we contact and involve ourselves in the lives of young people the higher chance we have to create supportive, trust worthy relationships and help build resiliency. Through this, we seek to decrease the negative interactions and involvements many youth in Scarborough face. This program employs 7 ‘Practitioners’ who work with up to 13 young people at any given time. Practitioners are entirely community based and we rely heavily on our partnerships with agencies across Scarborough increasing our productivity, safety and improving connections to local programs for young people and their families. On average, we see our participants 1-3 times per week for approximately 60-90 minutes each visit. This is over and above phone calls, conversations over social media or interactions with family and other relevant stakeholders in the young person’s life.
Our data shows this program is making significant impact in the areas of school engagement (grade level achievement, attendance, and academic success), community/peer networks through engaging groups of friends and siblings in the program at the same and criminal involvement through a decrease in new offenses amongst our participants. Success in the TAAGS Program cannot be determined by a specific measure- we are supporting the lives of people with different and multi faceted strengths and barriers. What we do know is a young person’s attendance in programming and achievement of credits after 3 years out of school is a success. When a young man graduates high school and starts his own contracting business, this is success. When a young woman has strength to leave her abuser, move into a safer apartment in the city and focuses on her own goals- she is successfully setting the stage for her future. When she follows her safety plan, maintains her academic engagement and receives non supervised visits with her child- she is building her successes. When a young person relocates, obtains a job they enjoy and creates a satisfying income for himself he has been successful.
Our practical experiences and participant testimonials tell us we are helping to increase the resiliency of some of Scarborough’s most vulnerable young people to think positively about their lives and question previous choices and experiences that did not prove positive for them. More and more young people are striving to build networks that will support their success, creating and accomplishing goals that create tangible and attainable frameworks for their future. Even after discharge, our participants call to inform us of successes, or to ask for guidance if they need it. We are increasing the knowledge of parents and caregivers to not only parent their children, but seek understanding of their own experiences of violence, trauma and grief.
The trusted relationships between practitioners and participants are what guide the TAAGS Program. We are privileged to witness the power of positive change and how it can positively alter a person’s entire life.. As we prepare to move into our third year of direct service, we are excited for the future and opportunities to improve the lives of young people, families and increase the safety of communities across Scarborough. If you require further information or would like to make a referral to the TAAGS program please contact
Joanne Barnes, Bjoanne@agincourtcommunityservices.com
647 218 6912