John Howard Society of Waterloo-Wellington

Youth Programs

Extrajudicial Measures and Sanctions

This program provides an opportunity for youth who have committed minor offences to take responsibility for their actions and make amends to the community.  Some youth are required to meet with a community panel to develop a contract that may include such things as restitution, letters of apology, essays, attending special programs and performing volunteer work.  Others are referred directly to educational workshops.  Youth are referred to the program either by police (pre-charge) – Extrajudicial Measures or by the Crown Attorney (Post-charge) – Extrajudicial Sanctions.  The latter are seen by Youth Justice Committees, which are comprised of community volunteers who have been trained under principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Funded by:     Province of Ontario 

Attendance Centre Program

This program is intended for 12-17 year old youth as an alternative to a term of custody.  The program focuses on the development of cognitive skills that reinforce positive values and promote responsible behaviour.  The program is client centered , addressing risk factors identified as contributing to criminogenic behaviour.  Youth develop stronger problem solving skills and learn to apply critical reasoning and consequential thinking in their everyday lives.  Youth may attend program one to three nights a week based on the individual needs.  Program structure emphasizes recreation, nutrition, core programming and community involvement and support.  Core programming includes but is not limited to substance use, anger management, healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, school support, job preparation and employment readiness, problem solving, communication/listening skills, self esteem, responsible social media use, bullying, conflict resolution and goal setting.   Community partners assist in delivering skill building and educational workshops raising awareness of services, opportunities and promoting community involvement. Programming is offered in group format, 1:1 format, 1:1 to group or group to 1:1 format dependent on the youth’s needs.  Youth  may be referred directly from the courts or from a Probation Officer.

Funded by:     Province of Ontario  

Youth In Transition Program

The Youth in Transition Program works to support Crown Ward youth in their successful transition out of care, to living on their own as independent adults.

The Y.I.T. worker will assist youth to develop, identify and pursue their goals and will support them to access and navigate adult service systems relevant to their specific needs.

Youth involved in the program are between the ages of 16 to 24 and will work with the Y.I.T. worker in the following key areas, but not limited to:

Employment, Housing, Educational Opportunities, Recreation, Community Resources, and Life Skills.

The Program works closely with staff from the local Family and Children Services to identify Crown wards who may benefit from the services of the Y.I.T. Worker.  Referral to the program may also come from other local service providers or from the youth themselves.

For additional information, or to make a referral, please contact our Y.I.T. staff at 519-622-0815 ext. 300.

Funded by:     Province of Ontario  

Youth Justice Workshops

Our Agency offers a wide range of Youth Justice Programs.  Youth workshops are available to youth between the ages of 12 and 18 and referrals can come from school board personnel, defence, youth justice partner agencies, police, crown attorneys and courts.   All programming is evidence based/informed and provides youth with information on the legal, personal and social effects of their decisions. Participants are better able to assess risks & influences, identify stressors, problem solve, make informed choices, engage with community supports and attain goals.  All of the programs educate youth about making good choices and thinking before acting.  They also stress the development of decision-making skills, moral reasoning, victim empathy and dealing with negative peer pressure.

All of our Youth Justice Programs offered are listed below.

All inquiries and referrals can go to for Waterloo Region or for Guelph/Wellington county.


Preventing Property Crime: This program defines and explores what constitutes a property crime. It highlights who is affected by the offences and in what way. It raises awareness of the social and financial impact on youth and the community.  As well as it also discusses victim perspective; it addresses the thoughts & beliefs that led to their actions; and presents alternatives choices.

Get Connected: This program develops competencies to navigate and improve youth’s digital citizenship by promoting responsible use of technology and online presence.  It teaches ethical and responsible communication strategies.   It also covers cyberbullying, sexting, the sharing of compromising images or recordings and recognition of online dangers/predators.

Substance Use Workshop:  This program provides youth with a non-judgmental, supportive space in which they may express their thoughts and feelings concerning their experience of substance use and the impact of substance related behaviour within their lives.  It also addresses influencing factors, implications, risk factors, facts and myths, & harm reduction strategies.

Understanding Anger:  This program addresses risks and needs in the areas of emotional regulation, anger, hostility and aggression by providing youth with the necessary tools and skills to avoid harmful and/or impulsive reactions.  Youth are provided with communication, empathy and problem-solving tools as well as strategies to recognize cues, thought patterns, healing processes and solutions.

Employment Workshop:  This program provides the support for youth to create a professional resume that highlights their skills, assist them with job search skills and interview preparation. It examines the skills and qualities employers look for, and work ethics required for job retention. Youth will also be supported with referrals to free youth employment programs that aid with finding employment opportunities.  Based on their employment interests, youth may also be offered certificate workshops in Safe Food Handling or Smart Serve.

Financial Literacy Workshop:  This program focuses on responsible money management and developing the foundational elements of saving and budgeting, earnings and deductions, banking, loans and personal income tax.

SNAP®(Stop Now And Plan)(Note: Program for Justice Involved Youth): The SNAP® model is a framework for effectively teaching youth emotion regulation, self-control, and problem-solving skills. Youth learn how to “stop and think” in the moment and explore strategies and skills for making positive choices. Explores how thoughts, feelings and actions are connected.

Healthy Relationships (4th R):  This program promotes healthy relationships using a proactive approach through skill building and targeting risky behaviours regarding relationships (peers, family, workplace, school, romantic, etc.).  It helps youth to develop sound judgment in decision making, self-awareness, problem solving skills, and healthy attitudes.

Level Up (Mindful Masculinity):  This program is a new gender-based violence program for male youth only.  It helps male youth understand where gender based violence comes from, reduces risk factors for GBV and provides a counter set of beliefs reflecting equality and inclusivity.  It fosters an appreciation for every person’s right to psychological, physical, sexual and financial security.  As well as also provides positive ways of interacting to meet individual needs in relationships.

FLIP (Fearlessly Living in Peace) – Weapons Offence Education Workshop:  This program facilitates an understanding of what constitutes a weapons offence and the possible consequences that can follow.  It addresses the challenges attitudes and beliefs that contribute to possession and use of weapons.  As well as provides the opportunity for learning alternative non-violent techniques for conflict resolution and strategies to respond to difficult situations.

Extrajudicial Measure/Youth Justice Committee:  This program has the youth and parent/guardian meet with a Youth Justice Committee to determine appropriate measures to make amends for the offence; YJC monitors youth’s completion of agreed upon measures. (Restorative Justice- victim involvement).  All workshops and community referrals are available to the youth.

Funded by:    Province of Ontario 

Funding for Educational / Prevention Programs is provided by United Way of K-W and Area, United Way of Cambridge and North Dumfries, United Way Community Services of Guelph and Wellington and Service Canada.


Educational/Prevention Workshops

Bullying Prevention Workshops (Gr. 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8)

Our Bullying Prevention Workshops consist of four programs that are tailored to the developmental and learning needs of students at different grade levels. The ‘One by One We Get Along’ program is designed for students in Grades 1 & 2; ‘Up2Me’ for students in Grades 3 & 4; ‘The Power Within’ for students in Grades 4 & 6 and ‘The Wall’ for students in Grades 7 & 8.  These programs consist of five classroom-based sessions (usually one period a week for five consecutive weeks) that are delivered with the teacher present.  Workshop times and duration are arranged to best compliment individual school schedules.

One By One:  We Get Along (grade 1-2)

This program fosters development in social competencies such as self-monitoring; appropriate problem solving; knowing when to seek help; and recognizing passive, aggressive and assertive choices.

UP2Me (grade 3-4)

This program expands on these concepts with assertive skills, mutually beneficial problem solving, self-awareness, mindfulness strategies, WITS, etc.

The Power Within (grade 5-6)

This program takes a more in-depth look at the bullying situation and the players involved (‘bully’, ‘the bullied’ and ‘bystander’). During this program, students discuss the decision that each individual could make and the ramifications of these choices. Social competencies are explored as they apply specifically to a bullying situation (i.e., students are taught to be assertive through the use of a strategy specifically designed to combat bullying).  A fifth session introduces concepts related to cyber safety/ responsibility and cyberbullying.

The Wall (grade 7-8)

This program expands on social competency skills and explores the moral and legal responsibility with regards to social interaction.

One of the unique benefits credited to the Bullying Prevention/Social Competency Programs is the invaluable common language that students utilize when discussing problems with peers, staff and parents. This language allows students to effectively communicate thoughts and feelings about a situation in a way that is less intimidating or restrictive to them. This common language also helps students understand and differentiate between negative actions and viewing someone as a ‘bad’ person thereby decreasing the potential for labeling among students which can serve to perpetuate bullying behaviours.

Funded by United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin and United Way Waterloo Region Communities.


C.O.P.E.S. Program (Communicating Our Perspectives and Emotions Successfully)(Grades 7-8 or high school)

This program is a group-based program that supports the goal of building knowledge, skills and abilities to provide a solid foundation for living and learning. Content and delivery methods are evidence-based and reviewed annually. The participants are youth who are referred to the program through school personnel or may be delivered in partnership with a community group.

It is delivered in a group format with four to ten students over eight to ten one-hour sessions delivered once per week. The content includes but is not limited to topics such as: pro-social communication styles, perspective taking, understanding others, effectively working as part of a group, and emotion regulation. Although there is some general material common to all session sets the specific topics emphasized is driven by the group. The first sessions focus on gaining insight into oneself, one’s goals and one’s values. Middle sessions deal with problem solving and anger/emotion management and communication styles and tools. The last sessions address healthy relationships and self-esteem. A variety of teaching modalities are used throughout the program which is highly interactive and provides many opportunities for meaningful directed discussion. The COPES curriculum uses real-life scenarios to assist youth in strengthening their assets and increasing their resiliency.


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