Vibrant Communities In Focus
Image Credit: Benjamin Rondel
Patricia Region, Ontario
To see a police officer as a friend, a mentor, someone who will help you: these are the
goals of an innovative program dubbed Kids 'N' Kops. Developed in Newfoundland in
1998, the program is taking hold across Canada. The executive director of Big Brothers
and Big Sisters of the Patricia region, Judi Benham, is thrilled that a grant from the Ontario
Trillium Foundation allows her to offer the program to a dozen children every year in
Dryden, Sioux Lookout and Kenora.
"The kids learn that cops aren't scary. Some come from homes where an abusive dad
was taken away by a police officer. They have to learn to trust them again. The police are
great with the kids. They laugh and horse around a bit, but they're also serious and kind
and patient. They take the kids out on the patrol boat, and show them the canine and
the bomb disposal units. We had one little guy who said, 'I'm going to be a police officer
when I grow up!'
"So many things are happening in our communities, with younger and younger kids
getting into trouble. This program helps kids, reassures them on so many levels. It's
priceless. They make friends, talk about their lives and realize there are lots of kids with
similar problems and challenges. They graduate on the Friday afternoon with a great
sense of optimism."