22 Division in partnership with ProAction Cops and Kids launched a ski club in February 2015.
The program involved youth from the East Mall, West Mall, and Willowridge communities. It coupled energetic youth with police officers for a learn-to-ski experience. The program was expanded from the pre-existing Ski Hill Blues program that operated in the east end of the city.
In preparation, officers reached out to a local youth group Rathburn Area Youth (RAY) and advised them of the early stages of this program. After a few meetings, students were selected through RAY to take part.
The kids were provided with gloves, jackets, and neck warmers for the chilly February nights that they courageously endured on Centennial Ski Hill. All the equipment was provided through Sail and Alpha Marketing, and the program would not have been a huge success without both organizations being on board.
Right from the start of the program the children involved could be seen as having an absolutely fantastic time. The youth were enthusiastic and eager in all of their activities on the hill, and never complained once during any of the harsh conditions they faced.
Many of the youth had never been on skis before, but after the few lessons that were provided by City of Toronto Ski Instructors, many felt that they could conquer the task of skiing down Whistler Mountain.
Officers and the involved youth were able to interact in a friendly and safe environment, and thanks to programs such as these, officers can be seen in a much more down-to-earth and approachable fashion. Unfortunately, some of the youth and teens involved in this program have had bad relations or witnessed poor interactions with the police in the past. However, after the social interactions that officers have had with the youth during this program, many of these notions or stereotypes were broken down and bonds were formed. Bonds that hopefully can be carried forward and improve relations on all levels within the communities the participants live within.