WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20: Children are getting an early opportunity to get to know policemen and women as part of a project to foster better community relations.
The Youth Leadership Academy aims to banish negative stereotypes about the police and allow youngsters to speak to officers on a regular basis in an informal setting.
The academy has been modelled on the North American Family Institute (NAFI) and trainers have been brought in from Boston to help get the initiative up and running in Bermuda.
The programme is co-ordinated by the Family Centre and the Bermuda Police Service and it is divided into two parts; an initial one-week Youth Police Initiative followed by the three-month Academy stage.
The first group of 15 students graduated from the Academy earlier this year.
While the second group are already half way through the three-month programme that teaches leadership qualities as well as public speaking.
PC Teshae Trott said: “As a community officer we are always the first ones to get involved in these kind of programmes.’
“The students get to see the human side of police officers. We talk about things like families and hobbies during the sessions.
“It is our chance to show them we are not robots.
“Most children have not experienced police officers at this young age and their only perspective is usually from parents or family.
“Family members might have had a negative perception and this academy gives us to change that.”
The Academy sessions take place at The Centre in Angle Street in Hamilton between 4pm and 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
PC Adrian Haynes added: “This has been a tremendous experience for the officers as well as the children.
“At the moment in Bermuda an initiative like this is critical and helps change the mindset of young people.
“It shows them what they can achieve and how the decisions they make affect their future.
“We have already begun to notice the qualities that many of these children have and how they can develop those qualities.”