Tony Newton had such fun the first time around that there was no way he was going to miss the second billiards series organized by the Toronto Police Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit (APU) at Corner Bank Sports Bar & Grill in Scarborough.
The series, that involved practice sessions and a tournament, was held from March 13-15.
“I played the sport before, but never in a setting like this with police in our presence,” he said. “It’s really good to see that cops are human beings just like us and they can have fun.”
Newton said playing pool engages his mind.
“I play other sports, but this is like a skill test,” he added. I have to think about what I am doing and I enjoy that aspect very much. It’s much more than running around and doing other physical activities.”
He was among 15 young participants in the second annual three-day Pro Action Cops & Kids-sponsored event.
Pro Action invests hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in youth programs across the city.
The participants were from the Native Child & Family Services of Toronto Centre in the Galloway community.
“I am a pool player and this is something I think they would be interested in,” said organizer Morningstar Williams, of the Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit, who wanted to give young people a chance to learn something new from professional instructors while playing alongside Service members.
Donna LaFontaine, in Records Management Services, took time off from work to play with the youth.
“I am Metis and I love working in the community with young people,” she said. “It is such an honour to be out here. In my youth, I used to play pool and it’s a game I still love. I didn’t have these opportunities growing up, so to give back now makes me proud.”
Constable Tyler Rowles and Julie Campbell, of 43 Division, spent some time with the youth on the final day.
“This event gives us an opportunity to interact with members of our community outside of the uniform and standard police role,” said Rowles, who joined the Service seven years ago. “Some of the youth came up to me and said they would never have guessed that I was an officer. That shows that police officers are people, too. I am a passive pool player and hobbyist at best, but anything I can do to connect with the community is a huge benefit.”
While Jordan Cheverie, of the Employment Unit, is not a regular pool player, that didn’t prevent him from attending the event.
“I support the work the Aboriginal Peacekeeping Unit is doing and am willing to do anything with them to build relationships,” he said. “I am thoroughly enjoying this afternoon, interacting with youths in a positive atmosphere.”