Growing up today can be tough. The progression to junior high from elementary school is a particularly vulnerable time for youth, a time when positive role models can have a great impact on shaping their outlook and choices in life. That’s where the Cops ’n Kids program comes in.
Cops ’n Kids is designed to bridge the gap between police and youth, and provide youth with adult and peer mentors. The program is a joint initiative of Halifax Regional Police (HRP), Halifax District RCMP and Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB), and targets Grade Seven students from across HRM who have been identified as succeeding despite facing challenges. Senior high school students who have demonstrated leadership ability are invited to join the program as youth leaders and serve as mentors to the younger students throughout the school year.
The program starts with an adventure camp at the Tim Horton Children's Camp in Tatamagouche. For many of the participants this is their first visit to a camp. Over the weekend, the youth participate in activities that focus on personal development, self-esteem building and making positive life choices as well as promoting healthy physical and emotional well-being. Events are held during the school year to allow the relationships formed at the camp to continue to grow and strengthen.
Launched in 2004, Cops ’n Kids has been going strong for nine years. “It’s incredibly rewarding to watch the kids progress throughout the year,” says HRP Constable Jeannie Rankin, who has been involved with the program since 2007. “Seeing them learn new skills and gain confidence really reinforces that our program makes a difference in their lives.”
RCMP Constable Patricia Grobmeier agrees. “These camps go a long way in showing the kids that the police are there to help, share and promote healthy choices. I really enjoyed my interaction with the kids and being a positive role model,” she says.
This year’s camp kicked off on Sept. 22 with 70 youth participants, 12 youth leaders and 22 volunteers from HRP, RCMP, HRSB, HRM Recreation and the Military Police who served as camp counsellors/leaders. Described as the best camp yet, two new activities proved to extremely popular - a media studio where budding film makers produced stop action films and the archery range where participants channelled their inner Katniss Everdeen. It was a great beginning for what is sure to be an amazing year.