Vulnerable youths are getting to know police and community leaders in a program aiming to encourage respect and caring, break down barriers and make them “Fit for Life”.
Orana Mid-Western Police District and Dubbo PCYC delivered the program aimed at youth aged eight to 14 for the last six weeks.
Twice a week local police, PCYC staff and community leaders train with the students who are picked up from their homes and brought to the PCYC.
Orana Mid-Western Police District Commander Superintendent Peter McKenna said the program included boxing and other activities and after “the kids sit down to a cooked breakfast and are taken to school.”
“I have seen monumental changes in a number of these kids. The program currently has 25 kids who come regularly, both boys and girls with a mixture of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal backgrounds,” he said.
"When they first started, there was a real stand-off towards the police officers in particular but now the camaraderie, respect and friendship that has grown between the police and the kids cannot be overstated.
"These kids need this. Its a caring environment where they feel safe and have role models to learn from. But its the kids themselves that I am so proud of. They throw themselves into the program and we are seeing them grow as individuals and young leaders.
Supt McKenna said when he and other officers involved in the program see “the kids down the street” they come up to them and engage with them, whereas before the program, that would have never happened.
“We talk to the kids about making good choices, not being involved in crime and to think about what they want to do with their future,” he said.
"Ultimately, the plan is to keep working with the youth through the PCYC team and local police, with a variety of the Rise Up programs designed to assist them growing up, making good choices, gaining education and eventually get them into the workforce in the long term."
Supt. McKenna said it was part of Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s “Rise Up” plan where the programs operate statewide in partnership with PCYC.
They would focus on early intervention, developmental crime prevention, building positive relationships and networking, numeracy, literacy, nutrition and employment strategies.