Every month, one student at Evergreen Elementary School in Drayton Valley, Alta., is chosen to be a Mini Mountie.
It's all a part of the Mini Mountie program created by Cst. Stephanie Leduc from the Drayton Valley Detachment to foster a positive relationship between the students and the police.
"I started the program for the kids because I wanted them to know me by name and know that the police are friendly, nice and approachable," says Leduc.
She drafted a proposal and presented it to the school principal, Scott Kupsch, who was thrilled with the idea. "It's so important to have the police visible in our school," says Kupsch. "With this program, the
kids get to see these leaders in their community and build trust with them."
Each month, Leduc and Cst. Piotr Ulanowski pick a theme, like bullying or Internet safety, fill a bulletin board with related information and put together a presentation.
At the end of the month, they hold a colouring contest for the students from kindergarten to Grade 6. From the entries, one student is randomly selected to become the Mini Mountie of the month.
The winner receives a certificate and has their picture taken with the constables. They also get a positive ticket, which gives them free access to places in their community like the swimming pool.
Leduc says she knew that kids like to colour, but she wasn't sure what kind of response she'd receive.
"At first I thought that maybe only five or six kids would colour but then I got like 100 entries," says Leduc. "They love it!"
She's already seen the impact that her presence has on the students. Recently, when Leduc attended a domestic call, a child was there and she recognized her from the school. Leduc had helped her carve a pumpkin just the week before.
At first, Leduc says the mother was worried her daughter would be scared that the police were there, but the girl was excited.
The program is going so well that other schools in the community have been asking about it.
"The other principals are a little jealous of me," says Kupsch. "It's great for the school and great for the community."
Reprinted with permission from the Pony Express (No. 1, 2015).