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New video campaign aimed at helping Manitoba youth leave gang life

One Manitoba organization has launched a new video campaign aimed at helping young people leave gang life.

The Link, which provides support and services for youth and families, unveiled its gang prevention campaign on Wednesday. The goal is to help young people understand that there are resources available to help them leave gang life.

“It is an honour for The Link to participate in this initiative,” said Kerri Irvin-Ross, CEO of The Link.

“To be that off-ramp, to be that unconditional, accepting, caring, loving voice at the end of a text message that maybe gives that lifeline, that sense of hope and creates a sense of belonging.”

The initiative features three videos that are meant to educate youth about the myths surrounding gangs. The campaign has the look and feel of a video game, which is used as a way to be more relatable to those aged 13 to 16.

A phone number appears at the end of each video, encouraging viewers to text The Link, which will provide around-the-clock responses.

“We wanted to find a way to appeal to youth and show them we understand how they can be drawn towards gang life, but the reality of it often leads to victimization, jail time and even death,” said RCMP Insp. Grant Stephen, who is the chair of the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police organized crime committee.

“To reach youth across the province, we knew our channels would not be traditional media, but through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat."

The videos feature different aspects of gang life, including drugs, sexual exploitation and gun violence, and offer a realistic depiction of what’s involved in gang life.

The RCMP’s anti-gang unit, as well as reformed gang members, were involved in the campaign to ensure its tone, visuals and calls to action would resonate with the audience.

“[The campaign] is going to be controversial for some people, but more importantly, it’s intended to resonate with this younger age group, this younger generation, regardless of my generation and our generation thinks of it,” said Winnipeg Police Service Insp. Elton Hall

This gang prevention initiative was led and funded by the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police’s organized crime committee and Manitoba Justice. The videos can be viewed online. Top Stories

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