Eight-year old Kemba Rose hunches down with a lacrosse stick in hand and a mean scowl, glaring at goalie Constable Justin Yelle.
Sergeant Jeremy Boyko stands next to Kemba, telling her to put her game-face on before she unleashes her shot on net. Kemba scores, and her face is breaks into a huge smile as she jumps up to high-five Yelle.
At the 75th Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association (TPAAA) Children’s Playground Games, officers and children from the East Scarborough community have come together to play sports, have fun and get to know each other.
“It’s nice to expose them to something that’s out there, something that is new to them,” said Boyko.
Children learned the finer points of batting, kicking and running at the Games, August 7 at Sir Robert L Borden Business & Technical Institute in Scarborough.
The event, held in partnership with KidSport Ontario, drew over 120 children from the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club and the Our Space Danzig to take part in different sports.
Each child had the chance to learn techniques in lacrosse, soccer, basketball, and cricket, as well as track and field and interact with officers helping out at each station.
Representatives from the Pan Am Games, Toronto FC, the Toronto Argonauts and the Toronto Raptors were also there to help assist and play with the kids.
Mansoor Ahmad, a sergeant at 13 Division, brought his two children along – who were busy teaching kids to bat in cricket – to learn themselves the value of volunteering. He wanted his children to know how much police officers take away from working with kids at such events.
“It was beautiful to see kids have fun and for them to see police officers are human and approachable and can be role models for these kids and not strangers.”
For 32 Division Constable Rita James, it was great to see kids laughing and enjoying themselves.
“They challenge me, they want to race me - it’s a good time,” she said, of participating in sprints with the kids.
Other than a fun day outdoors, and to meet police officers, children had the opportunity to try out different sports they may not have played before. A big hit for the last few years has been lacrosse, which is managed by the Toronto Police Tinmen lacrosse team.
For eight-year-old Jadyn Scott, lacrosse and soccer were the best stations at the Playground Games.
“It’s really fun here but my favourite sport is baseball!” she said.
While Jadyn missed out on baseball, for 14-year-old Jilliyan Parchment it was basketball she was most looking forward to.
Mike Bagg, General Manager of the TPAAA, said the association is donating to KidSport Ontario to subsidize sports for children in the area. KidSport Ontario will be picking up the tab if any of the children participating in the games want to participate in the sports they learned.