Officers from 12 Division are helping students discover the joy of reading over the rest of the school year.
The program, initiated by the Service’s Black Community Consultative Committee (BCCC), in conjunction with ProAction Cops & Kids, will bring the cops and students from C.E. Webster Public School together for an hour a month during the lunch period.
Superintendent Scott Weidmark joined BCCC vice-chair and teacher Yvette Blackburn and Community Liaison Officers Constables Teresa Verrette and David Michaud at the launch on February 5.
“There are ways to escape to a different world and to see a slice of life you have never seen before,” said Weidmark. “Travelling and reading are among them. To this day, I like to curl up with a glass of milk and read a good book.”
Weidmark also said the project will help to build bridges between officers and students.
“Our officers will come into the school to work with you, so you could get to know them for the unique characters that we all are,” he added. “We joined the police service because we want to help the community. For us, it’s important to develop a relationship with you because we want you to look at us and say police officers are people we can trust.”
The Toronto District School Board has provided the books for the volunteer program and ProAction has approved a grant for funds to provide snacks and prizes for students.
“We are excited that your school has been chosen to lead this pilot project,” said Blackburn, a guidance counsellor at the school. “There is joy in reading and the police are thrilled to be part of this initiative. The officers want to help you, they want to talk to you and they want to engage with you. These are also individuals you can use as references later on in life.”
Verrette said she was really excited when Blackburn and Inspector Reuben Stroble asked her to start the program.
“It’s taken us about 18 months to get this up and running,” said Verette, who will leave the reins of the program with Michaud while she is off on maternity leave. “I know we are in the digital age and reading is low down on the totem pole of most students. We are trying to reverse that trend.”