A long-running program in Blackfalds is teaching young kids not only what a day in the life of a police officer looks like, but also how to make healthy life choices.
Now in its eleventh year, Kids and Kops is run by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lacombe and District in partnership with Blackfalds RCMP and Lacombe Police Service.
The four-day camp takes 24 kids aged 8-11 through various activities like taking an oath, investigating a crime scene and even airsoft target shooting and a K-9 demo.
Crystal Zens, BBBS Executive Director, says the program is ultimately about mentoring.
“It’s not just sitting in a classroom listening to people talk. You’re actually experiencing with actors and the police officers, and it’s early enough that they are still learning and molding their choices about how they’ll live their life,” Zens says. “This camp definitely instills those tools to make good choices.”
Blackfalds Protective Services Manager and former RCMP S/Sgt. Ken Morrison spent five years involved with Kids and Kops and says the airsoft shooting part of the program is a valuable one.
“These are often youth that don’t have that opportunity to interact positively with police and don’t have that opportunity sometimes to have that role model that can teach them and help them understand and respect weapons such as this,” he says. “It’s very opportune and great experience for the youth to spend four days with role models that are very knowledgeable about weapons and the safe handling of them.”
Rylan Zens, a former student at Lacombe Composite High School, attended Kids and Kops in the first couple years of its existence. He's now studying criminal justice at Lethbridge College and aspires to be a member of the RCMP.
"It had a huge impact on my life. It made me want to follow in the footsteps of the leaders at the camp," he says. "It's good for police to have good relationship with police. It's proactive and kids dont see police as scary."
Kids and Kops is partially-funded through the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lacombe and District Charity Checkstop.
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