Creating Confident Teens

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 6 a.m. February 25, 2015

The girls from the Young Wisdom Mentoring Club got makeovers on Family Day, Feb 16, as part of the efforts of the 32 Division Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) members and officers to get more involved in the community.

A girl sits smiling in a chair in a smock as a woman applies a substance to her hair
Club member Alessandra Bicknell gets her hair dyed by colourist Naz Sohrab

The club is run by Constables Azadeh Sadeghi and Marta Mierzwinska, for girls in the  Lawrence Heights neighbourhood, aged 13 to 21, as way to interact with youth and create confident future female leaders, explains Sadeghi. 

On this particular day, the young women from the club were treated to free makeovers by hair stylists, make-up technicians and colourists from Bahar Salon at Finch and Yonge Sts. 

The idea was thought up by Bahar Salon co-owner and CPLC member Nima Sanjari, who got the green light from owner Bahar Rahami. 

“We thought this will be a trial run with 6-8 girls to see how it goes,” explains Sanjari, who wants to continue with the event on special days like proms or other events, where the girls want their hair and make-up done. 

It was decided that Rahimi and Sanjari’s wife, Samyar Saboumchi, a make-up technician, would volunteer their time to help with the make-overs. However, when salon workers found out about the event, they all volunteered to work for free and help out. 

“I loved my employees, but now I love them even more,” said a beaming Sanjari. 

“When you love your job and make someone feel better about themselves, you feel great. It’s satisfying to bring a smile to their faces,” said Naz Sohrab, the colour technician at Bahar Salon, on why she wanted to participate.

A group of people, one man in TPS uniform, standing together
Superintendent Selwyn Fernandes, Bahar Rahimi, Constable Azadeh Sadeghi, Sergeant Peter Rallis, Ida Fernandes, CPLC member Tony Fernandes, CPLC member Nima Sanjari and Samyar Saboumchi at Bahar Salon

“This is one of many CPLC efforts,” said  32 Division Superintendent Selwyn Fernandes. He added the idea was to have youth from the community come in for a day and “be treated like queens.”

While the idea of a make-over seems fun on the outside, for many of the teenagers it wasn’t just a day of pampering. 

For 16-year-old Alessandra Bicknell, it allowed the girls to express themselves the way they wanted. “It gives us girls a reason to like the way we look and the freedom to do something we wanted to do but may not be able to afford otherwise.” 

Other than having fun days like this one, the mentoring club is more than just that, explains Sadeghi. 

“It’s a safe and nurturing environment too.” The girls go through mentoring sessions and get guidance from the two officers as well as participate in group activities.

A girl sits in a chair with foil on her hair as a woman stands beside her pointing at it the back of her head smiling
Constable Azadeh Sadeghi joking with a girl from the Young Wisdom Club

As adults, we forget about teenage pressures and how tough and competitive the environment can be

“It’s like a big family,” says 16-year-old Kim Douglas, as she waits to get her hair done. “I love Azi (Sadeghi), she’s like a second mom to me.” 

The words echo with Sadeghi, who says she is trying to create relationships with the girls from the community so that they are able to come and talk to her without feeling intimidated. “I want them to recognize me as Azi when I see them in the community with or without the uniform on.”

The idea to enhance their relationship with female members of the Lawrence Heights community is also a way to create positive leaders for the future, says Sadeghi. “Having these leaders helps us communicate with the community,” she adds. In the next meet-up of the Young Wisdom Club, the older girls will be going to university campuses around the city with officers, as a means of motivating them to attend university. 

For Constable Mierzwinska, mentoring the girls is also a reminder of how tough teenage life can be. 

“As adults, we forget about teenage pressures and how tough and competitive the environment can be,” she says. 

Mierzwinska says she was also happy to interact with the employees and owners of Bahar Salon, who are just as much a part of the community as the girls from the club. “It’s great to see the people we serve (at 32 Division) show their commitment to the community,” says Mierzwinska.

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