The Calgary Youth Justice Society (CYJS) and Cenovus Energy today announced the launch of an innovative leadership development program that links vulnerable young people in the community with volunteer coaches from Cenovus.

The In The Lead program is designed for young people who are susceptible to high-risk behavior. High school students nominated for the program are designated as Young Leaders and matched up with a volunteer coach from Cenovus. Participants come from the Calgary Board of Education’s Discovering Choices schools that offer outreach programs for students who find regular school programs don’t meet their needs.

Two pilot sessions were conducted during the school year. The program is being officially launched in conjunction with the end of the second session.

“I was looking for a company that was ready to engage its own people and its own values in a meaningful way and Cenovus was more than willing,” said Denise Blair, Executive Director of the CYJS. “They made a significant financial investment in the project, though just as importantly, they invested their own human resources.”

The program focuses on what’s strong with young people, not what’s wrong with them, providing a non-judgmental environment for them to explore their talents with adults who accept and encourage them. Students and their coaches take a 16-week journey that helps both parties discover and develop their leadership strengths. The Young Leaders regularly meet one-on-one with their coaches to share stories and ideas on life and leadership. Young Leaders also attend classes where they complete a community project and work through a leadership curriculum.

Program participants in the second session chose to base their community project on the 3 Things for Calgary campaign. The 3 Things campaign, started by Mayor Naheed Nenshi and refined by a group of volunteers, urges citizens to develop three ways of making Calgary better.

“Even more important than the financial contribution is the active way In The Lead engages with our employees, helping them to grow their skills, both professionally and personally,” said Lynne Douglas, Cenovus Group Lead, Community Investment. “This program fits into our three Community Investment areas of learning, safety and well-being and support of vibrant communities. We strive to be innovative in all that we do, including the way that we give back to the community.’’

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