Written by: Jason de Leeuw
Owner and President of Father & Sons: Small Engine Services, Inc.
Fall 2017 Thrive Accelerator participant.
When a youth faces a life-changing event, in the negative sense, the most difficult hurdle to overcome is that of one’s own mind. Without appropriate resources to counteract the effects of negative influences, the damaging and destructive behaviours are all too attractive and readily available. Beginning with “less stable familial situations” the stigma around problematic youth as almost irredeemable, a young adult’s situation worsens (especially young men, accounting for 75% of all youth offenses proven through multiple studies). For instance, incarceration rates among juveniles and young adults is increasing at a rate of 2.6% year-over-year and our prisons are at 102% capacity rates. Recidivism is 41%-44% at the Federal level, including major violent acts and organized crime in Alberta rising over 10%. Not to mention the financial stressors and public community safety concerns these numbers give rise. Stating the obvious: something is not working.
That is the motivating message behind Father & Sons: Small Engine Services. This understanding for the current need of today’s youth epidemic is born from the need I know personally; I know because I was in need of these things myself. Almost losing my father to a stroke at age 13, I began to look to negative stimuli and then succumb to those pressures and easy releases that drugs and alcohol provided. In founding Father & Sons I believe that what society needed to provide struggling youth was useful education, sustainable employment, and consistent support; we needed to lay the proverbial axe to the root of the tree.
By providing a general service (small engine repair) to the community at large, Father & Sons hires, trains, and certifies at-risk youth through real, hands on work experience. Coupled with direct encouragement through adult mentors, Father & Sons enables at-risk youth through small engine equipment, trains them in-class through a multi-phase program, and helps them find job placement through their new sense of empowerment. Complimenting the ready-to-change attitude expressed by any young person, we empathize by offering value in developing powerful futures (and thus, communities, cities, and nations) through the personal development of the individual. In addition, we want to team with likeminded organizations in Calgary for a holistic approach to overcome the issues that surround our candidates. Our initiative is for our candidates to receive support from counsellors, sustainable housing, subsidized city programs, and financial literacy platforms (such as the Momentum Financial Literacy and Youth Fair Gains program). It can be a difficult process, gut wrenching at times, but through the increasing support from like-minded individuals and organizations, Father & Sons: Small Engine Services and all our supporters will “Repair the Future.”