Young people in the Jane & Finch community had the opportunity to interact and play a basketball game with 31 Division Community Response Unit officers on June 6.
The youths are members of the Prince Youth Basketball Group founded by youth worker Jayson Prince. He started the program three years ago to teach youths discipline, life skills and the importance of education.
A few weeks ago, he met with Sergeant Michelle Masters and Constables Jason Muto, Sohail Nadeem, Kevin Brishett, Robyn Sutton and Ryan D’Sena to discuss the possibility of a friendly hoops match.
“More than playing basketball, I wanted to bridge the gap between law enforcement and our young people, and I thought this could be accomplished through basketball,” he said. “I want them to get to know the police in their community.”
Before the game, Constables Nelson Santizo, Trumaine Johnson and Muto spoke to the young people.
“That went very well and then we opened the floor for questions,” said Prince. “At first the kids were shy, but once the first question was asked, they opened up and the questions just flowed. It was a wonderful day”
Prince runs the program on weekends between May and September at Domencio Di Luca Community Centre, near Jane St. and Sheppard Ave. W.
He hopes that the basketball game between the police and the young people will be an annual event.
“Based on the response by the youths, I see no reason why we should not do this every year,” Prince said.