High School graduate Emman Haider was recognized earlier this year with a 55 Division scholarship presented to young people in the division for outstanding community contributions.
Motivated by the honour, the Monarch Park Collegiate Institute international baccalaureate program graduate successfully applied to be part of this summer’s Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program.
She was among 155 young people from the city’s designated priority neighbourhoods sworn in on June 30 at police headquarters.
“This is my second summer job and I am excited to be part of Canada’s largest police service for the summer,” she said.
The Minga Social Justice Club leader at her high school, Haider volunteers with Free the
Children and Amnesty International and was instrumental in raising almost $7,000 to build a school in Kenya.
The 18-year-old enters the University of Windsor in September to pursue systems design engineering.
“My career goal is to combine my social justice passion with my academic interests which are math and science and work with organizations like Engineers Without Borders,” she said.
Northview Heights Secondary School student Yevgenivy Arestov enters the YIPI program three years after his brother – Andre – graduated from it.
“He told me to go for it because he had a wonderful experience,” recalled the 15-year-old Grade 10 student. “My brother said I will have a fantastic summer and I will get to proudly tell future employers that I was a member of Toronto Police Service.” Arestov aspires to be a chef.
A close friend in the program last year recommended Lila Nguyen.
“I intend to enjoy the summer while making new friends and gaining work experience in my second summer job,” added the Weston Collegiate Institute graduate who is enrolled in York University’s kinesiology program.
Malvern resident DeSean Garrett is eagerly looking forward to his first summer job.
“My mom suggested the YIPI program would be a good start to get some work experience,” said the Senator O’Connor Collegiate Grade 11 student. “If I was not doing this, I would be volunteering at summer camps with my church. I have had positive interactions with the police at my school and I want to learn more about what they do.”
The recruits represent the ninth batch of high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 to be exposed to the program that caters to young people facing significant challenges, including finding summer employment.
A total of 1,271 youths have been part of the initiative since it was launched nine years ago.
“This program works because members of the police service greet and welcome the participants to start the journey of helping them here all the way through their employment,” said Deputy Chief Peter Sloly. “Some of you will be involved in preventing crimes and in some cases actually solving crimes by canvassing neighbourhoods. A lot of you will be contributing to safety in the city as well as contributing to your own lives moving forward with a great resume, great skills and a great network of professionals within the police service.” Sloly reminded the students that they are now part of the police family.
“Wear that crest and shirt with pride,” he told the eager youths. “If you open your heart to us, you will be successful. We will learn from you and you will be better for it.”
Nearly 1,100 youths applied to be part of this year’s YIPI program.
“This tremendous response shows the huge need for a program like this,” Toronto Police
Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee said. “For those of you who were selected, you should be very proud to be part of this wonderful initiative...we believe that this program has countless benefits for the young people, the Toronto Police Service and our city. It also helps create future leaders in neighbourhoods across Toronto and gives our officers the unique opportunity to interact with young people and learn first-hand about their lives, realities, hopes and aspirations.”
Established with the assistance of former provincial minister Mary Anne Chambers who attended the launch, the YIPI program is part of the province’s Youth Opportunities Strategy conceived to help young people facing barriers achieve success.
In 2008, the program was permanently incorporated into the Ontario government’s list of youth programs and a year later, the Ministry of Children & Youth Services expanded its funding to the program to accommodate a 50 per cent increase in hires.
Tracy MacCharles, who was last week sworn in as the Minister of Children & Youth Services, urged the participants to make full use of the opportunities that the program provides.
“We want young people like all of you to see the opportunities that are ahead of you,” she told them. “We want you to realise your full potential and become active members of your community. You will have opportunities this summer to gain skills, meet new people, learn about police work, earn a job reference and boost your confidence and your resume.”
Babatope Ajayi, who graduated from the YIPI program in 2012, was the keynote speaker at this year’s launch.
“My experience was beyond amazing as I got to work alongside some truly inspirational officers who put their lives on the line day in and out,” said Ajayi who is enrolled in the University of Toronto’s mechanical engineering program. “Prior to being a YIPI, I too had preconceived notions about law enforcement. However my time here provided me with first-hand knowledge as to how officers really do serve and protect the community...my YIPI experience was one where I started my transition into the adult world. I made lifelong friends and carry wonderful memories.”
Earning $11.00 an hour, the students will be exposed to the service’s 17 divisions and other support units in the next seven weeks.