2021 Police and Youth Engagement Program builds skills and connections
Some things can only be learned through experience. In co-creating the 2021 Police and Youth Engagement Program (PYEP), six youth coordinators discovered this for themselves, learning valuable skills while connecting with local police.
From August 9 to 13, 42 highschool youth from ethnocultural communities gathered in person to participate in programming that was created by youth coordinators.
Youth coordinators are natural leaders, selected within their communities and hired for the summer. PYEP strengthens their leadership skills and builds their capacity and confidence to connect with police.
“I gained a lot from being a youth coordinator,” says Youel, a coordinator with PYEP. I learned leadership and public speaking skills. We did a lot of training. It helped me lead activities and presentations, and was especially helpful with my job of managing the volunteers.”
In addition to learning organizational and leadership skills, the program also gave the youth the opportunity to learn about policing as a sworn and civilian member.
“This program changed the way I see the police. I loved the smiles on everybody’s faces when we had the police here,” says Shane, a coordinator with the program this year. “That’s the part that gave me the most joy. No matter where you are, many people have a negative view on the police, especially people of colour, so to see the youth having these moments, engaging and making connections of their own was really enlightening.”
Many youths said their experiences with the program changed the way they see the police in Edmonton, an effect that organizers know the youth bring home to their parents and their larger communities.
“I asked them a lot of questions about the law and it made me feel less afraid of the police because I felt comfortable,” says Yasmin, a youth coordinator. “One of the most surprising things I learned is that I shouldn’t be afraid of the police.”
PYEP is supported by the Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Police Foundation and Canada Summer Jobs.