Members of The Odd Squad will speak at the South Surrey forum.

Members of The Odd Squad will speak at the South Surrey forum.

Forum to provide support for youth

Drugs and gangs to be discussed at South Surrey event

Community members from the Semiahmoo Peninsula are banding together Nov. 2 to address the issues of gangs and drugs and the effect on youth at a public forum.

The free presentation will be held at Emmanuel Covenant Church and will feature the Odd Squad Production Society – a charitable organization comprising current and retired police officers who speak to youth on their experience with drugs, gangs and other issues.

Organizer David Wright, a former officer with the Vancouver Police Department, said having people who “walked the beat” in places like Vancouver’s Skid Row come to speak at the forum may help stave off youth from a life of addiction and crime.

“I just felt that it was a really good fit for our community,” he said, referencing the gang-related shooting of Craig Widdifield in a Morgan Crossing parking lot last April as one of the catalysts for organizing the forum.

“Living in an affluent community, sometimes it’s hard to face the reality of what’s going on.”

As both an officer and a parent, Wright knows firsthand the difficulties in finding support services for someone who is struggling with addiction.

With representatives from Fraser Health, MindCheck, Luke 15 House, Youth Detox and Launching Pad all to be in attendance at the event, Wright aims to help others navigate the twist and turns of recovery support.

“One of the reasons I had come into contact with Fraser Health was through a family issue. We stumbled through that in the initial stages. I feel that it would be great to educate other parents so they don’t have to fumble as much,” he explained.

The Langley resident noted that since word spread about the open house, he has received positive feedback from the community.

“When I started connecting with the different groups, they were in right away because they realized this is a serious need,” he said. “I want people to leave this not only educated about the drug situation, but how to seek help if you need help and where to go to seek that help.

“I don’t want people to just leave thinking that was a great presentation by the Odd Squad, I want them to know there is help available here in their community.”

The forum will begin at 2 p.m.

For more information, contact the church, 17029 16 Ave., at 604-535-0748 or visit www.emmanuelcovenant.ca/harshrealities

To RSVP, email harsh.realities@hotmail.com