Dorian Farrell could hardly contain himself after learning he was selected to participate in this summer’s Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program.
“In my first year of high school, I decided on a career goal to be a police officer in Toronto,” he said. “It was like a light bulb went on in me and I felt this was the path to take to make a meaningful contribution in the community while making a difference.”
The Grade 12 student was among 153 students from some of the city’s designated priority neighbourhoods who graduated from the program on August 26.
Farrell was assigned to the Records Management Services.
“I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot about the police and how they operate,” said the Neil McNeil High School student. “I think the experience will serve me well when I decide to apply to be a uniformed officer.”
A year ago, Juneil Rose-Brecio was in the Philippines.
She could therefore be excused for being a bit nervous and wide-eyed after graduating from the program.
“This was my first summer job and I really enjoyed it,” said the newcomer, who arrived in Canada last March and was assigned to the Divisional Policing Support Unit. “I got to learn a little bit more about the police in this country and make new friends.”
The Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School graduate enters York University this semester to pursue accounting studies.
Grade 12 students Alesha Turcott, assigned to the Service’s garage, and Aqib Mannan, who was at the Toronto South Detention Centre, were this year’s valedictorians.
“Through this program, I have learned how to overcome my fears of speaking in front of people,” said Turcott, who attends West Hill Public School. “Now, I have the ability to speak and voice my words and opinions with confidence. I also now realise that police are approachable and they are there to help and work with us as a community to make our city better.”
Aqib is enrolled at Weston Collegiate Institute.
“As part of the youth community, we crave opportunities to blossom,” he said. “This program definitely serves that need and I hope it doesn’t go away.”
This is the 10th year that the Toronto Police Service has administered the summer program.
Ministry of Children & Youth Services project manager Sonia Bozzo praised Canada’s largest municipal police service for ensuring that the program flourishes.
“Successful initiatives, such as the YIPI program, take planning, energy and commitment,” she noted. “Over the past decade, your organization’s dedicated staff have allowed the program to thrive, offering up a positive and worthwhile experience for participating students. The Ontario government is proud to support the program as part of our commitment to help young people, like those of you graduating today, realize your full potential. We want you to succeed because your success benefits the community, those around you and, most importantly, you.”
The YIPI program emerged as a summer employment opportunity for young people from some of the city’s designated priority neighbourhoods to gain valuable work experience and feel positive and confident about their experiences which they take back to their communities.
The Toronto Police Services Board has been supportive of the program from its inception.
“I am sure this summer has been a tremendous learning opportunity for you,” said vice-chair Chin Lee. “I am confident that each of you will be forever changed by this experience.”
Chief Mark Saunders congratulated the graduates and thanked them for their commitment to the program.
“Eight weeks of full-time work is something that’s going to resonate on your next job application,” he told them. “…The success is not in the program. It’s in you. When you listen to the narrative surrounding young people, it’s just a very small fragment they are talking about. When we have these programs, we get to see the true reality of the young men and women that are here today. Our future is looking very bright.”
Saunders acknowledged former Ontario cabinet minister Mary Anne Chambers, who has attended every graduation ceremony since the program started a decade ago. It was under her watch, as Minister of Children & Youth Services, that the program was launched.
“It’s not the same if I don’t see you here,” said Saunders. “Whenever there is a community that’s in need of support, women are the first to step up to the plate.”
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.
Learn more about the Youth in Policing Initiative