Each year, Big Brothers, Big Sisters gets together with the Lacombe Police Department, the Blackfalds Police Department, local sheriffs and RCMP to create a week of action for the county’s youngsters.
Kids and law enforcement come together from July 14-17th for a variety of events that have so far yielded positive responses from all involved communities, organizers say. “The philosophy behind it is that this creates positive mentorship. Mentoring with the police, they get to know the police in a different light and build a bond with them,” said Big Brothers, Big Sisters (Lacombe division) Executive Director Crystal Zens. “We’ve had comments from parents in the past where kids are going down Main Street, and see the chief or another police officer, and yell out the windows and are so excited to see them because they think of them as a friend now. It’s really neat to build that kind of rapport in our City.”
Twenty-four children are given the opportunity to get close to the police department members. Lacombe’s Kids & Kops program was awarded the 2010 Solicitor General Award (now known as a Ministry of Justice Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award) due to its high level of police involvement and success in developing relationships in the community.
“What I like is it’s not based around negative re-enforcement or scaring the kids. It’s all positive interaction with some learning lessons along the way. It’s a fun activity, not something to scare people into doing things right,” said the new Lacombe Police Inspector Lorne Blumhagen.
“It’s showing them why they should do things like being respectful to their community and themselves, in a positive manner and having fun with it. It’s a good opportunity to make that connection and provide a positive atmosphere for rapport building and connecting with the kids.”
This year will be Blumhagen’s first year of involvement with the program. He said he is looking forward to it, and to the opportunity to interact with the kids.
The program is funded mainly through charity check stops performed annually in Lacombe. Big Brothers, Big Sisters have welcomed any corporations to become a sponsor of these events. The sponsorship would allow the program to accept more children, and to potentially develop a program specific to Blackfalds.
“For the last year or so, Blackfalds has approached us and wanted to run a program solo, because they have so many youths who want to be involved. We’ve had a couple of meetings with the RCMP this year to see how that would work,” said Zens. The best way to get information is to speak with staff at Big Brothers, Big Sisters, located at 5102-50 Ave. or to visit their web site.