Officers from 51 Division delivered care packages to young people in the Regent Park community who were registered in the Pro Action Cops & Kids-sponsored Swim & Skate program.
Launched in February, the program was scheduled to end in October. After two of the 11 sessions, it was cancelled for the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Included in each package delivered to the youths’ homes on July 28 were a hoodie and helmet bought with Pro Action funds.
The Toronto Police Association made a $500 donation that was used to buy skipping ropes, playing cards, pens and reusable bags.
“We just wanted to let these kids know that we haven’t forgotten about them,” said Records Management member Lesley Eltom, who co-founded the program with D/Const. Ian Erdis. “Though we aren’t able to do the program, we want to communicate, interact and to reach out to the young people. We want to let them know they can contact an officer anytime and that contact information is included in the packages we gave them.”
Four of the sessions were slated for the Cherry St. YMCA and the remainder at Underpass Skate Park. Pro Action Cops & Kids, a charity that connects police officers with young people, sponsors the program.
“At the YMCA, the kids were scheduled to do Swim to Survive and Emergency First Aid certification and at the Skate Park, they were intended to bond with the officers and kind of reclaim the park as a positive community space,” Eltom said. “We had instructors for roller blading, skate boarding and bike repairs, all members from the community, lined up to come in.”
A total of 53 youths between the ages of nine to 13, registered for the program.
The program was scheduled for the first Wednesday each month for students attending Lord Dufferin, Nelson Mandela and Market Lane schools.
“We would pick them up from their schools and do a safe walk down to the YMCA,” she said.
Eltom pitched the program to Erdis when they were both working at Records Management.
“I was very impressed and enthusiastic once I heard about it,” Erdis said. “She lives in this community and has been at 51 Division for nearly nine years, so she is very familiar with it. I am so happy to team up with her to help some youth. It gives me great pride in being able to give back to the community I work in.”
Erdis has been with the Service since 2003.