A community collaboration spearheaded by Toronto Police, with ProAction Cops & Kids funding, has generated excitement and smiles on the faces of nearly 30 young people in the Pelham Park Gardens community this summer.
Officers from 11 Division Community Response Unit, combined with the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre and the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF), to deliver the program. The young participants – between six and 12 – will receive bikes, helmets and certificates on July 22 for completing three days of bicycle- and road-safety training over three weeks.
Tina Conlon, a United Church community minister with the Davenport-Perth Ministry, said the program was quite successful.
“This is a program that was resuscitated this summer,” she said. “Constable Josh McSweeney was new to the community and he wanted to do something for the young people here. I mentioned to him that there was a blueprint for a bike program that was short-circuited and we decided that was a good place to start. My work as community minister is to connect people to each other and resources and make things happen. This bike initiative is certainly something that will affect the lives of some of the young people in this neighbourhood.”
Darren Duke, of the LEF, ensured that the second-hand bikes, that were either purchased or donated, were safe for the kids.
“We had a lot of work to do on some of them,” he said. “Some came with rusty chains while others needed new brake cables and tires. At the end of the day, it’s all about giving the kids a safe bike to ride and enjoy themselves.”
Constable Steven Moniz praised the community partnership, saying young people from some of the city’s challenged neighbourhoods are the major beneficiaries.
“They learn road-safety rules and enjoy riding around their neighbourhoods,” he said.
Since its inception in 1991, ProAction Cops & Kids has become the largest private funder of Toronto Police programs for young people.