Transit Community Outreach Team makes an impact with at-risk youth

It was a cold night in December when the Transit Community Outreach Team (COT) team first met a young man sleeping rough on the train at the 69th St CTrain Station. He was still in high school and had been kicked out of his home on the evening of his 18th birthday.

His autism made seeking help difficult – he was hesitant to go to a homeless shelter. Instead, he found himself sleeping in Transit stations, desperate for a way to finish school and get his life on track. It was at that difficult time in his life that he met the COT team. The team is staffed by Transit peace officers and outreach workers from the Downtown Outreach Addiction Partnership (DOAP) team from ALPHA house. Its mandate is to connect Calgary's most vulnerable Transit users with services.

Initially, the young man was highly distressed, but the team persisted, building his trust, and finding him a winter jacket. They introduced him to the Mustard Seed, where he could get food, showers, and life skills training. The COT team also worked closely with his school, teachers and guidance counsellors to ensure he had the educational and emotional support he needed.

Today, he's still in school and on track to graduate. And for the team, that's what makes it all worthwhile. They know they're helping people who might not reach out on their own, and they take pride in meeting people where they are and providing ongoing support. It's all about connections, both with the people they help and with other organizations that can provide the resources and support they need. And for the COT team, there's nothing more rewarding than seeing someone succeed.