From left to right: Superintendent 14 Division Neil Corrigan, and Toronto Community Housing Special Constables Shane Gosine and Joel Assaly.
On July 18, the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association (TPAAA), in partnership with Crime Stoppers and Toronto Community Housing, hosted its annual Playground Games at Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre in the Blake Boultbee community. Toronto Community Housing provided the BBQ supplies and staff support, while TPAAA volunteers coached the kids. The event brought together children from Eastview Boys and Girls Club, Holy Cross Catholic School, Greenwood Walpole, Rivertowne and Coatsworth.
More than a dozen officers from the TPAAA attended the introductory day of sports for children from disadvantaged or at-risk neighbourhoods. This included Superintendent 14 Division Neil Corrigan, who kicked off the games with a lesson for the kids.
"I used to think that the only thing the police did was arrest people and catch bad guys," said Neil. "Now, I know policing is much more than that. It is about upholding the law, ensuring safety and peace in our communities and working with the citizens to make our city better."
The TPAAA was formed in 1881 and for 75 years it has hosted the annual Playground Games as a way of bridging relationships between the men and women in uniform and children of at-risk communities.
This partnership helps to develop a positive relationship between officers in uniform and kids from various neighbouring Toronto Community Housing communities, while exposing the kids to new types of sports.
Kids were split into four groups and sent to one of four stations: basketball, lacrosse, rugby and soccer.
Enthusiastic Toronto Police officers at each station coached their young athletes and cheered them on as they ran, dribbled, passed and scored. In each of the four one-hour sessions, children learned the basics of the sport and practised their drills with the support of Toronto Police volunteers.
Royce MacDonald, Treasurer of the TPAAA, explained why the Playground Games are so important to the Toronto Police. "These children are our future. If we don’t get to them now, we never will."
From left to right: TPAAA Secretary Chris Scherk; City of Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer Kevin Handlsperger; Toronto Community Housing Special Constables Joel Assaly and Shane Gosine
Bringing together kids and uniformed officers provided an opportunity to dispel some of the biases and misconceptions surrounding Toronto Community Housing residents and law enforcement officers. Toronto Community Housing Special Constables Joel Assaly and Shane Gosine came out to the Playground Games to show their support to the Toronto Police.
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