May the force be with you

Published: 16 May 2013

Award participants on expedition in Canada

A partnership between a police force and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Canada is bringing together young people from diverse backgrounds to work together to overcome prejudices that exist in local communities.

The TROOP programme, run by Toronto Police Services and Toronto Parks and Recreation, was set up to break down barriers between youth and police. The young people hail from a mixture of backgrounds and neighbourhoods, including those who have been involved in or are at risk from joining a gang.

Building trust

Young people who participate in the TROOP programme take part in expeditions with members of the force, learning new skills and building trust between one another. “By sharing experiences, prejudices between the groups are broken down,” says Jeff Needham, Senior Field Officer for the Ontario Division of the Award in Canada. 

The TROOP programme has been a huge success since its inception 12 years ago and has linked up with the Award, which offers a framework for young people to be recognised for their extra-curricular activities. “This three-way partnership provides an opportunity for young people to complete the Adventurous Journey section of their Award but also opens their eyes to many other opportunities that exist elsewhere in their community,” explains Jeff. As well as expeditions, young people are learning essential life skills for further education and employment through access to local organisations, including the police force. 

Open to all

"More and more schools and agencies are signing up to the programme because of its links with the Award," says Jeff who has been working with the Award for almost ten years, promoting it to youth at risk and developing community partnerships. 

"Young people come back from the journey and share their adventures with their peers and class mates which only serves to enhance the profile of the Award in the community and schools. Most of the participants are first time campers and their outlook has broadened to include spaces and opportunities that exist beyond the confines of their own neighbourhood."

Plans are now underway in other municipalities to use the TROOP programme as a model to develop similar projects for youth in Canada.

Find out more about TROOP or visit the Award in Canada to see how you can get involved.