Since its inception in 1984, Sarnia-Lambton Rebound has progressed to meet the ever-evolving needs of youth in our community.
Rebound is an organization focused on helping youth solve problems through skills development and training, says Executive Director Carrie McEachran, which was founded by Barry Symington, Dee Knox and Terry Fitzgerald in response to one parent’s struggles. “They were sitting at church one Sunday. Dee was asking them for some suggestions, and that is how Rebound began,” McEachran says.
The agency has served more than 35,000 youth since its doors opened, says Rebound Business Manager Sarah McCann. “Rebound began as a diversion program, focusing on youth and helping them avoid the justice system for small mischief, like stealing chocolate bars. It kept court costs down while making them a little more responsible for their behaviours.” The program offered them the opportunity to work on their life skills and avoid a custodial sentence. “The entire program was a real learning process. At the very first meeting, Barry let youth go out for a cigarette break and they all disappeared. After that he realized that he had to lay down some clear guidelines.” The first program was called Life Choices and it spanned 10 weeks. They covered different topics and each week set a goal to meet.
Rebound currently offers 16 distinct programs. “The amazing thing with Rebound is that we don’t sit back and pat ourselves on the back and rest on what we’ve done. We see that there are needs and we adapt,” explains McCann, who has been with the agency for 14 years. When she began there were three staff members. Now Rebound employs 30 staff to run programs for youth aged 8 to 24. In its inception, all of the program participants had some contact with the law. Today, McCann says that percentage sits at about 45%. “We are working proactively to help them avoid that contact. It is a combination of self-referral, parent referral and school referral.”