Martin C. Barry
Officers from the Laval Police Department’s prevention department and youth protection officials at CISSS de Laval last week unveiled the results of a collaborative project involving a mobile trailer serving as the setting for an interactive reality-style game to educate at-risk Laval teens on the perils of sexual violence.
Perils of romance
The trailer, which sits in the LPD’s equipment storage yard at police headquarters on Chomedey Blvd. when not in use, will initially be taken to group homes for troubled and displaced youths where teens ranging in ages 14 – 18 will be invited, in groups of six, to take part in a clue gathering game whose purpose is to raise their awareness of violence that can sometimes arise in romantic relationships.
Other partners who also contributed to the project include the Maison de Lina, the Centre d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels (CAVAC), the Centre de prévention et d’intervention pour victimes d’agression sexuelle (CPIVAS), Mesures alternatives jeunesse de Laval (MAJL) and Maison l’Esther. The game program was written by Laval-based Immersia, which specializes in the creation of escape games.
Developed by Immersia
“When the community intervention officer came to Immersia with colleagues and explained to us what they wanted, we decided right away to become involved,” said Marylin Filion, director of operations for Immersia. “For Immersia, giving back to the community is part of our values, and being able to create a game with a specific educational goal was a great honour. We are very proud to have participated in this unique project and we hope to be able to develop other educational projects in the future.”
For youths invited into the trailer, a typical game session works as follows. They receive explanations from an LPD officer who is there as the host. The starting point is a video message providing to them some details of a fictional storyline. The youths enter the trailer in search of clues, and they have 30 minutes to find the answers.
A learning experience
While this is going on, they are learning about the four stages that typically take place in a romantic relationship that turns violent. Representatives from participating community groups from Laval are also on hand to provide additional information. At the end, the youths are given a chance to express what they learned from the experience, while exchanging points of view with other participants or asking questions.
“Using a multi-sensorial approach, as is the case with this new tool, allows youths to develop more points of reference while living new mental and emotional experiences more quickly, profoundly and with more intensity,” said Shirley-Ann Savard of CISSS de Laval’s youth protection services, who was on hand at LPD headquarters during a preview for local media last week.
Following the clues
“There’s a couple in the game who are called Abigail and Adam,” the LPD’s Const. Julie Rouleau explained during a briefing. “They spend a week in love, but after that things start happening in way they weren’t planning on. It’s the task of the youths entering the trailer to find out clue by clue what happened during that week. We ask the youths to find seven clues as to whether the relationship was healthy or unhealthy.”
This latest collaborative effort between the LPD and the CISSS de Laval is similar to a project they put together last year. It also involved an interactive concept designed to appeal to the imaginations of teens, while providing them with helpful instruction on relationships.
‘Hallways of Love’
‘Les couloirs de la vie amoureuse’ (‘The Hallways of Love,’ approx. transl.) ran from a basement location at the Laval Cosmodôme, where high-school students were bused in to take part in an interactive and instructional scenario more or less along the same lines. Both programs were developed at minimal cost, according to the LPD, using a few thousand dollars in subsidies obtained from the provincial government.
While the plan by the LPD is to bring the trailer (which is rented for now) along with the interactive game to youth centres, as well as group homes and outdoor events in Laval, they don’t anticipate taking it to schools since the trailer won’t accommodate more than six youths at a time.