Had Luqman Ahmed not been accepted into this year’s Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program, he would have spent most of the summer at home playing video games.
Fully embracing his first summer job, the Grade 11 student joined fellow YIPIs attached to 13 Division in a graffiti-cleaning exercise on August 18 at Bert Robinson Park on Caledonia Rd.
“I have enjoyed working with the police and what makes it more satisfying is that I have been able to come out into the community and do things that will benefit people,” said the Rexdale student, who aspires to be a neurosurgeon. “That makes me feel good.”
This was also the first summer job for Grade 10 student Ange Hiiwa, who is among 150 YIPI students from priority neighbourhoods to work alongside Toronto Police Service members this summer, earning some money and gaining insight into policing.
“I have enjoyed the various tours we have done to police facilities, like dog services and also coming out to work in the community like what we are doing here today,” she said.
Kaden McCulloch, who intends to become a psychologist, now considers himself a bit of a graffiti-removal expert.
“We were at St. Clair School a few weeks ago to remove a large portion of graffiti that was on the school’s back wall,” he said. “We applied graffiti-removal spray and the janitors were generous in allowing us to use their power washer to compete the job. The summer has been great in that we have done a lot of work to benefit the community. I hope it has made a difference in a small way.”
Prior to this summer, Justinne Diaz thought the police’s principal job was to catch the bad guys.
“This has been a real eye-opener for me,” pointed out the Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute graduate who is enrolled in Ryerson University’s science program. “To see the police involved in so many community activities and to actually get an opportunity to be part of that is gratifying.”
Constable Juliane Palm, the School Resource Officer at Oakwood Collegiate Institute, said this year’s group of YIPIs at 13 Division are great students who work well together.
“They have removed graffiti throughout the Division, they made a garden in our parking lot and they will host a barbecue and open house on August 21,” she added. “In addition, they have set the bar extremely high for themselves in terms of what they intend to achieve professionally.”