Breaking down the barriers with youth
"POLICING is about more than locking people up who break the law."
That's what Chief Inspector Jo Reid from Coffs/Clarence Police District, who is taking part in the new PCYC program Fit for Life which focuses on creating positive relationships between youth and police.
Each Tuesday morning, police officers and volunteers meet with youth at the Grafton Sports Complex for the health and wellbeing program.
"The program is delivered through boxing, incidental education and consistent mentoring to encourage youth at-risk to connect and remain engaged with the school, PCYC and positive engagement with NSW Police," Chief Insp Reid said.
"The activity aims to improve physical fitness and overall wellbeing and introduce participants to the PCYC NSW Star Values; commitment, resilience, integrity, citizenship, respect."
Initiatives such as the Fit for Life program allow police to develop relationships and engage youth.
"These type of initiatives allow police to work with youth to try and prevent them from entering the criminal justice system," she said.
"The pop up youth hubs and other agencies implementing youth programs demonstrate there is a real thirst for this type of engagement in the Clarence Valley.
"For local police, the aim is to break down barriers with the kids through positive engagement and highlight that not every contact with police is adversarial in nature."
So far, they've run two sessions which have had great engagement.
"After a boxing/fitness session, they are provided breakfast and taken to school, back home or other appropriate location," Chief Insp Reid said.
"The kids love getting the gloves on and are showing a real enthusiasm for the program which you need at 6am in the morning when we commence pick ups. We are also lucky to have a band of volunteers."
Chief Insp Reid said Fit for Life was a foundational activity along the NSWPF Youth and Crime Prevention Command RISEUP pathway with the potential to lead participants into more structured programs such as Fit 4 Work and Blue Star leadership programs.