A new program launches this fall aiming to keep at-risk youth on the right track.
The Ottawa Community Housing Foundation has received a more than $600,000 grant from the province to run the Keeping Youth Connected initiative.
Mohamed Sofa, the vice chair of the Coalition of Community Houses said until now there has been a gap in programming for at risk at 13 to 14.
"It's a very important age in terms of adolescence and also the transition from a neighbourhood school to a bigger school and we're seeing if we don't provide opportunities, it'll be challenging for some of the youth to succeed."
River Ward Councillor Riley Brockington represents the area with the second most social housing in the city and said it's a great initiative.
"If people question where their $600,000 is going, they just have to look at what the long term costs are when kids don't finish high school, when they're underemployed, when they're engaged in criminal activities," said Brockington.
Shelton Gande, 16, lives in the Debra-Dynes area and said while programming was available for younger teens, there was nothing available for him when he reached the age of 12. He said the program would be beneficial.
"I was one of those people who had to go through that cap of 13, 14 before starting to work at around 15," he said. "When I was at the family house, I really couldn't participate in anything because I was too old and I just had to stay at home. It'll give kids something to do instead of just staying home or playing video games and all that stuff. It'll really help them keep going with the flow."
"At that age ... you really want to go outside to discover the world, but you might not end up at the right place, so it's really good to put a program in that spot, so it keeps you away from bad stuff," said Esrael Panda, 15.
The program offered at 15 Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhoods across the city is expected to help 300 youth and would run for three years. It will involve leadership and mentoring programs and workshops that develop the self-confidence, social and life skills of participants.