Two local Grade 11 students will give up their lazy spring break schedules to train 17 hours a day at the RCMP Youth Academy in Chilliwack, March 26 to April 3.
Pender Harbour Secondary School’s Emily Reid and Elphin-stone Secondary School’s Trevor Smith have been accepted into the academy that gives teens a taste of what it’s like to be an RCMP officer.
A total of about 50 students are accepted into the program yearly and each must pass a rigorous physical fitness test, an interview and a background check to ensure they are right for the course.
“Both Emily and Trevor are star candidates,” said Sunshine Coast RCMP Const. Ashley Taylor, who’s been training the students to increase their physical fitness along with fellow officer Const. Benjamin Stewart. “They are both ready and I think they’ll do great.”
Once in Chilliwack, Emily and Trevor will wake at sunrise to start each day with physical activity, then participate in classroom instruction, hands-on RCMP scenarios, guest-speaker demonstrations, drill and challenges before hitting the hay at around 10:30 p.m.
The schedule is demanding and students are asked to give their all to the program, which is exactly what Emily plans to do.
“Becoming a police officer is something I’ve always wanted,” Emily said, noting she’s looking forward to making her first arrest at the academy. “They use actors and actresses and set up mock situations.”
Trevor also wants to become an RCMP officer some day, and having seen the positive influence the academy had on his sister Charlene the year before, he was eager to sign up.
“I’ve always had an interest in policing,” he said. “My mom worked for the RCMP for 10 years, and in the past my sister and I have gotten involved with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and Odd Squad and I got to see what behind the scenes VPD is like. I kind of want to see what the RCMP is like.”
The cost for the program is $800 per student. Taylor thanks the Rotary clubs of Pender Harbour and Gibsons for stepping up to foot the bill for Emily and Trevor.
Taylor sees the academy as an important way to get youth interested and involved in policing; however, she said only Emily and Trevor applied to go this year.
“We’d love to see more students apply,” she said, adding students should watch for the invitation to apply in September, when school starts.
Taylor is the contact for the program on the Sunshine Coast.
In addition to the RCMP Youth Academy, Emily and Trevor will be two of 12 students who will take part in the Peer to Peer Odd Squad program this year.
Odd Squad is a police-run drug awareness program that believes in having kids teach kids in order to make the message stick.
Through the Peer to Peer program, Sunshine Coast students will spend a day in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with Odd Squad members and local police to learn first hand where addiction leads.
The students will then return to their schools and prepare their own presentations on the topic.
So far only six students have signed up for the Peer to Peer program set to run on May 25 and Taylor is seeking six more interested teens in Grades 10 and 11 to take part.
Interested students should talk to their school counsellors or contact Taylor at the Sunshine Coast RCMP detachment.