Dr. Gira Bhatt

THE Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) announced on Tuesday that Dr. Gira Bhatt of Kwantlen Polytechnic University has won this year’s CPA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public or Community Service for her support of the South Asian community in Surrey, B.C., and her work to help curb youth gang involvement in the Metro Vancouver area.

This award is presented to a CPA member or Fellow who has made outstanding contributions in serving the public or a community through their knowledge and practical skills.

Dr. Bhatt is a professor of psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, as well as the lead investigator and director of the SSHRC-funded Community-University Research Alliance project: Prevention of youth violence and gang involvement. As lead of the project, Dr. Bhatt was instrumental in bringing together youth, their families, community organizations, law enforcement agencies, and researchers to address the growing issue of youth violence and involvement in criminal gangs.

Over the last six years, she and her team have worked to gain a deeper understanding of the risks that can lead to gang involvement and have applied that knowledge to create real change. They have worked with various stakeholders to evaluate gang prevention initiatives and to develop workshops, community events, videos and publications, including the brochure Gang Prevention: A Parent’s Quick Reference Guide, which was translated into more than 10 languages and distributed by the City of Surrey Mayor’s Office to every household in the city.

Dr. Bhatt’s sincere concern for public safety and youth and her passion for gang prevention were driving forces in the immense success of this project, which has been recognized though various awards and is now being shared with other Canadian communities.

Dr. Bhatt will receive her award at the CPA’s National Convention, taking place in Toronto from June 8-10. The convention will be attended by nearly 1,800 researchers, practitioners, students, and policy makers from across the country and will feature presentations on a wide array of psychological topics.