With a high drop-out rate often comes social and legal trouble. That is why for kids that have had such difficulty there are people like Gordon Hudson.

Hudson works for the Cree Health Board and is the regional director for Youth Healing Services. “Basically I take care of the group homes,” says Hudson in describing his role. “I also take care of the reception centre – that’s the young offenders’ facility, which takes care of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.”

Under a new mandate, however, he is available to any youth who needs his services within the nine communities.

A large aspect of Hudson’s job is prevention; he works in conjunction with the public health agency on promoting self-esteem, anger management, healthy nutrition, education and reading and related issues for youth under 18. All of this is in an attempt to keep kids from falling into the justice system.

The key to his success with kids is motivation. “The biggest thing up here is that a lot of these kids have lost the ability to dream,” says Hudson.

So he tries to show kids that staying is school is worth it by exposing them to some of the better things life has to offer if one gets an education. “What I have tried to do is institute role models because these kids all look up to sports people.”

In the past year Hudson has taken groups of kids down to Ottawa to meet NHL superstar Jonathan Cheechoo for a motivational speech. He arranged similar trips to Toronto to have the kids meet with basketball stars Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Nash. But it’s not all about sports. “When we went to Toronto we had a visit with the Lieutenant Governor and his literacy program and so it’s all based on some kind of education,” notes Hudson.

Throughout the year, Hudson is involved in running everything from hockey to football camps. Last year he ran his first ever cheerleading camp with some of the Montreal Alouettes cheerleaders. At the end of the camp, the children participating presented a cheer to everyone and, says Hudson, “the smiles and the idea of accomplishment on those little kids’ faces were incredible.”

To reinforce the idea that school isn’t such a bad thing, Hudson says he will be taking 200 kids down to Montreal for an Alouettes Game and to visit the Canada Space Centre, the Biodome and the Botanical Gardens.

His purpose is to whet the youth’s appetites for learning. Says Hudson, “I want them to know that they can achieve anything they want in the world, they just have to work at it.”

Gordon Hudson can be reached at Youth Healing Services, 418-923-3600.