By Vancouver Sun |

“If it wasn’t for (Safe Schools) I feel like I’d still be getting into trouble. They have helped me calm down. I was getting into too many fights.” — An at-risk youth who has been helped by the funds made available through the Adopt-A-School program.

He looks like he’s just taking a break from the set of Westside Story, the good looks, the American-Latino glibness, but here’s a 15-year-old whose acting out is real, the gang trouble and the police a matter of record.

Because of this he can’t be named.

But sitting in a locked down, single storey unit in one of North Surrey’s innumerable commercial strip developments — used as a temporary school — he provides a simple story of redemption.

And for the purposes of The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt A School campaign he provides a story of how money raised for Surrey school district’s Wraparound program has helped change his life.

The Wrap program is operated by the Safe Schools team which has a client list of 150 of the most at-risk youth in Surrey, many of whom are poor while a number have gone through the court system.

“The funds you guys raise goes to help these kids and their families. It allows us to help them in many ways. This kid’s an example,” says Jon Ross, a member of the team which is comprised of RCMP officers and school district staff.

“You have a unique story. Why don’t you just tell him,” Ross says to the youth.

He does. And if one considers all the current problems — large, small, political, social, economic or personal — that are causing turmoil in the lives of millions of poor people in this hemisphere, his experiences would put a tick against many of them.

First off he’s American-born and seeking refuge here from Donald Trump’s America.

His parents were born in El Salvador and had lived and worked in the U.S. for a number of years. And although he was born in Maryland it’s no secret that the Trump regime has raised questions about the validity of citizenship for children born to undocumented migrants.

The first to leave America was his stepfather — the most vulnerable — who took himself over the border to Toronto.

“He was scared he was going to be sent back to his country,” he says.

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