The Surrey RCMP’s new Mini-Blue program is seeing early success with Surrey elementary school students.
The program, a “little brother” to the popular Code Blue program, positively engages youth in grades 5, 6, and 7 with Surrey RCMP officers. Mini-Blue focuses on relationship building and mentoring through fun physical activities and interactions. Participants are taught the value of teamwork, self-confidence, and physical fitness. Different themes are discussed each week including drug awareness, internet safety, leadership, and what it means and takes to be a good member of the community.
“I really like being able to ask the officers questions,” says Sukhpreet, a Grade 6 student at Strawberry Hill Elementary, as he takes a break during a recent session. “It’s lots of fun playing games and activities, but I like learning about things like honesty and integrity. I want to be a police officer one day too.”
The Surrey RCMP has a multi-pronged approach to addressing youth issues and preventing youth from getting involved in crime. A big part of that approach is building relationships with youth at a young age to support them in making positive life choices and reducing their chances of getting involved in a criminal lifestyle.
“Similar to our Code Blue program, which is offered at eight Surrey secondary schools, Mini-Blue is an expansion of our proactive approach to developing strong, positive bonds between youth and police,” says Surrey RCMP Inspector Andy LeClair, Community Support and Safety Officer. “By focusing our efforts on a younger age group, we are able to positively engage with students prior to their entry into secondary school, which is often a critical and defining year for youth.”
Mini-Blue sessions are held two days per week during the school lunch hour. The sessions give participants a body and brain boost that sets them up for an afternoon of learning. The program is currently being piloted at Strawberry Hill Elementary and Mary Jane Shannon Elementary. The two schools feed into secondary schools that offer the Code Blue program, providing the kids with continuity in their positive engagement with police.
“Our students always look forward to the days when the officers attend,” says Byron Gammel, Strawberry Hill Elementary Principal. “Many are also seeing police officers for the first time and in a very positive light, which will only benefit them as they continue down their educational and career paths.”
In addition to the weekly Mini-Blue program, the Surrey RCMP’s Youth Unit and Surrey School District ran a series of Mini-Blue sessions at 10 elementary schools over spring break. Each session was attended by 40-80 students and was well received by both youth and parents alike.
“Working with the Surrey RCMP to develop stronger connections with our students helps build trust with positive role models and sets up life-long learning opportunities,” says Rob Rai, Surrey Schools Director, School and Community Connections. “Programs such as Mini-Blue and Code Blue can have a significant impact on a child’s learning potential and can often instill added confidence to help them reach their true potential.”
Moving forward, the Surrey RCMP plans to expand the Mini-Blue program into additional elementary schools across the city.
“We recognize that youth prevention and intervention programs at an early age can have significant returns, not only for police, but for the entire community down the road,” says Insp. LeClair. “We look forward to working with our Surrey Schools partners as we continue to develop our youth programs.”