A joint campaign across Manitoba aimed at helping young people get out of gangs is set to receive funding for a renewal this year.
The initiative, Gang Life is No Life, launched in June last year and is funded by the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) and Manitoba Justice, in partnership with The Link. It consists of resources and ways for youth between the ages of 13 and 16 to reach out to for help. In its release on Tuesday, the MACP said the goal is to “grab young people’s attention and offer a lifeline to help resist or get out of gang involvement.”
The number to text is available on The Link’s website, along with information on how to help someone if they are a part of a gang. The website also includes three short videos about aspects of gang life — drugs, sexual exploitation and gun violence. The videos look to break down the myths of what gang life is about, according to the release.
Gang life in the videos is depicted in a video game style. Ads for the campaign were also put up on social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat, bringing in about 11.68 million impressions, according to the release.
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Additionally, 150 conversations from 109 individual phone calls were recorded over two phases in the campaign.
“We were able to connect with youth across the province,” Insp. Elton Hall, with the Winnipeg Police Service, told reporters on Tuesday. “Providing this kind of off-ramp enables young people to manoeuvre through difficult times, provides exit strategies to gang life, can potentially save individual lives and create safer communities.”
He said funding will continue to the campaign this year and into the next.
The work done to help young people struggling with being affiliated with or a part of a gang, according to The Link’s CEO Kerri Irvin-Ross, takes time. It’s a commitment, she said, that takes hundreds of text messages or long conversations while ensuring the individual can navigate the system.
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“We are going to make a difference, and there is hope,” she said. “These young people that are involved in gangs, they’re not bad people. There are people caught up in life circumstances. We need to recognize their gifts, the possibilities and the opportunities that are waiting for them.”
The campaign last year underwent two phases, with the first phase receiving $150,000 in funding, Hall noted.
Anti-gang campaign targets recruitment, raises awareness of resources for at-risk-youth
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