Youth support program helps students serving suspensions in Grande Prairie


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GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alberta, Aug. 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — For many youth, succeeding in school or even staying in school can be a significant challenge. To support youth in the region, YMCA of Northern Alberta launched its popular Alternative Suspension program in Grande Prairie in March 2021. This school year, the program will be offered in the Grande Prairie Public School Division, Grande Prairie & District Catholic School Division and Peace Wapiti Public School Division.

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Alternative Suspension provides support to students who have been suspended or expelled from school by giving them a safe space to reflect on what they need and commit to improving to successfully reintegrate back to school. Instead of spending their suspension at home or at school by themselves, students will be paired with a Youth Support Worker who will help them overcome the challenges they are facing, find ways to improve academically and interpersonally, and — most importantly — develop resilience, confidence and the skills they need to thrive at school.

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“They will complete schoolwork, but also focus on learning and developing tangible life skills. The Youth Support Worker will communicate with the student’s parents and the school throughout their stay to provide updates,” explains Michael Peters, Program Manager, Child and Youth Services at the YMCA. “When the student returns to school, they’re still supported through follow-up communication from their Youth Support Worker and connections to further supports and positive activities.”

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The expansion of the program to Grande Prairie is welcome news for educators in the region.

“School staff and parents have observed students return from a short stay in the Alternative Suspension program noticeably more confident and motivated than when they were referred,” says Sandy MacDonald, Superintendent of Grande Prairie Public School Division. “The combination of working on personal knowledge and skills, while at the same time keeping school a focus and perspective, has proven to make for an effective program that positively influences the long-term success of our students.”

Alternative Suspension helps youth stay in school and thrive in school, contributing to a stronger community overall. For more information about Alternative Suspension, please visit

About YMCA of Northern Alberta

YMCA of Northern Alberta is a registered charity dedicated to building healthy communities since 1907. From providing quality child care and supporting people in their health and wellness to providing important housing and community outreach programs, the YMCA of Northern Alberta works to strengthen communities in the Red Deer, Wood Buffalo, Grande Prairie, and Edmonton regions. For more information, visit


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