SMILE Camp was an opportunity to foster leadership among students and a chance for students, teachers and police officers to earn from each other.
S.M.I.L.E. (Students and Staff Maximizing Inter-community Leadership Experiences) Camp was once again an amazing experience for everyone involved in the November 2015 session.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Police Service collaborated on the leadership-training program for students, teachers and police officers. Together they begin the process of building a leadership community by creating a initiative and plan for a safe school, which is to be implemented upon their return to school. The aim of the camp is for the students to develop knowledge, skills and confidence to overcome any challenges or obstacles .
ProAction Cops & Kids funded this program that sees 165 students from 12 to 14 years old spend 3 to 4 days at Camp George in Parry Sound annually.
The students interact with officers in a personal setting and work together to develop leadership skills for positive change. Students learn several leadership skills through fun interactive games, which exemplify being the change as an effective leader.
Throughout the program it is emphasized that the most powerful object in the room is themselves and they are shown the best way to responsibly demonstrate their own power for change. Students are given scenarios to demonstrate the quality of a leader and then celebrate the success and talents of everyone.
The teachers, police officers and students built trust and support networks. Together they worked on breaking down stereotypes and develop a respect for one another. The overall goal of the camp is to develop leadership skills to effect positive change, but is an environment for youth to open up about the issues of bullying and racism. The youth return from the camp with a different frame of mind, knowing they can make a difference and that they are the change, to making the community a better place.