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Yo Bro: A Resilient Solution

Posted by SVP Vancouver

Yo Bro Youth Initiative is a curriculum based educational program for youth. It keeps students connected with their school and community, while helping them develop a sense of purpose and belonging. The program builds resilience in the students and helps them deal with the risks and temptations of drugs and gang involvement, allowing them to achieve their full potential in life.

The Yo Bro Youth Initiative is primarily delivered by Joe Calendino and involves classroom study during school hours and operates after school hours year round with additional programs covering physical fitness and personal safety. Yo Bro helps youth identify risk factors that may affect their lives and provides protective options to overcome these risks. Importantly, a mentoring program provides a genuine dialogue about these risk factors and offers positive peer influences in developing ‘resistance skills’.

Nick Bedford, SVP Partner, saw the great potential and scalable-impact that the Yo Bro Program could offer. In 2012, SVP Vancouver’s participation started with Nick and a number of other partners providing pro-bono work to support the growth and transition of Yo Bro from a contracted service in four secondary schools to a registered charity serving many.

SVP work involved developing a business plan, setting up a board of directors and registering Yo Bro as a charity. SVP partners involved in helping Yo Bro expand were:

  • Chris Morris, Treasurer and accounting services
  • Geoff Howard, legal services
  • James Suk, web design and development
  • SpencerCreo Foundation, co-funding
  • Francis Family Foundation, co-funding

With the charitable status achieved for Yo Bro in 2013, SVP increased their support to include a financial contribution towards the cost of delivering the program to schools, and the SpencerCreo Foundation contributed towards curriculum development and admin support. With SVP Vancouver’s help, the program has expanded to 9 schools within the Vancouver and Surrey school districts and has more than doubled the number of students they work with each week to over 300.

With SVP support, the Yo Bro Youth Initiative was also able to deliver for the first time last August a mentoring program connecting elementary students to Britannia High School. This has been further expanded to a classroom program at Britannia Elementary School and has had a significant impact as the following comment will testify:

“It has become all too common that students leave elementary school at the tender age of twelve, only to be fully engaged in either drug or alcohol addiction within the next two years…. The biggest impact Joe has had on my students are his life lessons surrounding drugs, alcohol and gang violence. Students have been armed with strategies to overcome these hurdles resulting in a sense of confidence and lowered anxiety surrounding peer pressure and transitioning in to grade 8.” Justin Borsato, Teacher, Britannia Elementary Community School.

The Yo Bro message to youth is prevention-based – “You don’t have to stop what you haven’t started” Learn more about Yo Bro. Visit www.yobro.ca