Life could have been extraordinarily different for 21-year-old Brodie Scarsi had he kept walking six years ago.
Fifteen and wild, he'd been in and out of the justice system for about two years before Daniel Gaffney and Stephen Imrie from Canberra PCYC picked him up by the side of the road.
"They gave me their hand and basically said take it or leave it," Mr Scarsi said.
He took it and became part of a program designed to curb criminal behaviour in young offenders.
He learnt practical skills such as metal fabrication by building go karts with a positive mentor.
"It was keeping us too busy to do the bad things in life, we were focused on something else," Mr Scarsi said.
Today he is hoping the PCYC's newest crime aversion program will help more young people like himself avoid a life behind bars.
Close to half a million dollars will be invested in the new early intervention program, dubbed, Project Booyah , which will use adventure-based learning and resilience training to influence young people to avoid crime.
Over 20 weeks, participants will gain trade skills and qualifications to help them gain a job afterwards.
Stephen Imrie said up to 30 at-risk youth are expected to engage with the program over the next two years.
"A lot of the young people haven't had positive mentors, they might have come from backgrounds of domestic violence, or generational unemployment and a lack of engagement with education so [they're] starting on the backfoot," he said.
"We need to give these young people as much opportunity as they can to succeed and to thrive, and this program will help with that."
Mr Imrie said Canberra PCYC's programs are aligned with the ACT government's Blueprint for Youth Justice.
He said the more holistic approach to working with young offenders and the increased focus on early intervention has yielded quite substantial results since it began in 2012.
"We're already seeing that young people being apprehended by police is down 20 per cent, young people under youth justice supervision is down 35 per cent and community-based supervision is down 29 per cent, so we're doing really well," Mr Imrie said. "We're also starting to see the gaps starting to close in terms of the over representation of indigenous young people in our programs."
Daniel Gaffney said the secret to their success was to teach young people employable skills while using cognitive behavioural therapy to help them address their problems.
Eight in 10 graduates re-engaged with education when the police-run mentorship program first ran in Queensland, while six in 10 went on to find a job or work experience.
But Mr Gaffney said participants would walk away with other benefits too.
"It might be something really simple like routine," he said. "A young person may have a totally out-of-whack routine, they're not attending school and they're getting into trouble.
"But by coming with us on a regular basis, like with Booyah, they get routine, they get used to that structure and they're more ready to return to education, to get an apprenticeship.
Mr Imrie said Mr Scarsi was proof that early intervention worked.
"Basically [Stephen Imrie and Daniel Gaffney] really changed my life, they've been an inspiration to me. I'd probably still be in jail [without the PCYC], I'm not even lying," Mr Scarsi said.