A group of girls finished a bike race with a new set of wheels, but also a connection to the officers who police their portion of the city.
A group of students from Nelson Mandela Public School were among kids from across the city who took part in the Tour de Black Creek race on Sept. 21, which gave them the opportunity to learn how ride a bike earlier in the summer and get outfitted with a new bicycle and helmet and take part in a race with 150 other kids.
The partnership between the Toronto Police, the Breakfast Club and Canadian Tire Jumpstart, saw kids given safe-cycling lessons at the start of the summer at Humber College alongside police officers.
“They were given a nutrition course and taught street-sign awareness and how to use turn signals,” said Const. Omar Tayara, a 51 Division Regent Park neighbourhood officer.
“The girls liked being outdoors and riding bicycles,” said Tayara. “Many had never biked before or owned a bike of their own.”
The two-kilometre race brought teams from 12, 14, 23, 31, 32 and 53 Divisions.
Along with his partner Const. Mircea Bija, Sgt. Sin Chiu and Const. Lisa Dunk, they decided to continue bike rides with the kids after the race.
“Seeing how happy they were, and how excited they were, we decided to keep it going,” Tayara said, of taking the kids on bike rides along the waterfront trail at the base of their Division.
“It gave them a chance to ride in their neighbourhood and make some friends.”
Tayara would like to continue the tradition with students who participate in next year’s program and expects this year’s group to volunteer with the race program next year and stay involved in police programs.
“As a Neighbourhood Officers, our job is to build a relationship with the community, develop a trust and bond with the community,” said Tayara.
“We get to build relationships with the kids and create a bond and also gain the confidence and trust of everyone in the community. It helps keep kids heading in the right direction and helps us build trust.”