Urging Youth to JustThink1st

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 5 a.m. August 17, 2016

A multimedia program designed to offer youth solutions other than violence has received the support of the Service and financial backing of its Board.

A boy seated on steps looking at a phone
Justthink1st.com talks about solutions to violence

The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) has made a significant financial contribution to a community safety initiative endorsed by Chief Mark Saunders and the Toronto Police Service (TPS).

Just Think 1st is a community engagement program that seeks to generate awareness and offer solutions to abate escalating gun violence and reduce incidents of high-risk criminal behaviour.

On August 10, Staff Sergeant Ron Boyce and Karlene Bennett of the TPSB joined representatives from Urban Rez Solutions (URR) at the launch of the project aimed at mitigating gun violence in Toronto through producing multimedia messages.

The TPSB contributed almost $100,000 to the initiative.

“We want to thank Urban Res Solutions for developing a program that seeks to raise awareness when it comes to violence, gang involvement and negative peer pressure through social media and radio announcements,” said Boyce, who represented Chief Mark Saunders at the launch. “Through education, a powerful message is being provided for young people regarding safe choices they can make. The key for the success of this program is having them just think first.”

Visit  JustThink1st.com to learn more

A member of the URR team, music promoter and motivational speaker Farley Flex, acknowledged the TPS and the TPSB support.

“Connecting with the police and the board and understanding the need for collaboration are absolutely essential,” said Flex, of bringing all stakeholders to the table.

Rod Brereton, the founder of URR, an anger/change management consultancy, said, “Just Think 1st” is a proactive resolve-based self-empowerment initiative that utilizes multimedia to convey the harsh reality individuals can face if they make poor life-altering choices.

“We want to get the message out that young people should think about their actions and that is not just from a standpoint of how that can affect victims,” he said. “We want them to think about the things that matter to them, like their spouses, children, relationships and freedom.”

Brereton noted that community response to the project has been overwhelming.

“So many people, ranging from concerned parents, community leaders and renowned entertainers, to the young people themselves, understand how important this initiative is and have banded together to make a change in their community,” he said. “Seeing all of this gives me hope for our future generations.”

The campaign, which will be circulated through multi-media outlets, community centers and youth organizations, will include a series of videos produced by cutting-edge creative artists. S8, a local creative and production company, will spearhead the on-screen graphics and post-production services.

Flex said that meeting the young people on the technological platforms they frequent is vital.

“Over the years, we have seen how pop culture and social media have impacted young people in so many different ways,” he added. “When I do workshops with young people, some of them are constantly using their smartphones to look at WorldstarHipHop. That means they are finding that more engaging than what I am saying. Why not speak with them through WorldstarHipHop where they are constantly on? The important thing is to have the message sent, received and understood.”

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