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Gordon Bell students walk with Bear Clan and Winnipeg Police

November 26, 2021 News Story
Soccer Field Gathering

On a sunny, bright November morning, Gordon Bell High School students were excited to be a part of a new initiative, the school-based simulated Youth Patrol, and learn about personal safety.

Grade 7 to 12 students gathered in the school's green space to kick off a day full of new experiences and understand how Bear Clan and Winnipeg Police Service keep the community safe.

"We are happy to welcome the students of Gordon Bell High School and train them to be a part of the youth patrol. All students will be wearing safety equipment and explained about hazards to look for while walking. If they come across any items like needles or knives, they should not touch them and ask an adult to pick it up," addressed Kevin Walker, Interim Executive Director, Bear Clan Patrol. 

"Today, our walk will help the students to know the area, meet as well as build relationships with members of the community," said Rose Fontaine, Bear Clan Youth Patrol coordinator.

"Getting to know the people on streets is the key to building empathy. The homeless are not bad people, just going through a rough phase. They are still humans: we need to care for them, have a conversation, get to know their story and be there for them. Having youth in their lives is going to make a big impact on them, and the youth will be able to become leaders."

"The graduating class of Winnipeg Police Service are here to engage with the students and the community members. We have 110 Gordon Bell High School students who have signed up to walk today. It's a great opportunity for students to talk to our officers and the 36 recruits to have their first interactions as well," said Winnipeg Police Sergeant, Brian Chrupalo.

"This is Crime Prevention Week, so our community relations unit is giving presentations about personal safety, internet safety for the kids and sharing a general overview of what the indigenous partnership section and diversity unit does."

Students in five groups attended five interactive presentations and had interesting conversations with Winnipeg Police and Bear Clan Patrol members.

Rashi Purba, a Grade 9 student, learned a lot about personal safety and the work of Winnipeg Police and Bear Clan Patrol. The last presentation about Online safety and Cyberbullying was her favourite since they got a lot of practical tips about staying safe in the online world and made them aware of the risks involved, including cyberbullying. 

"Everyone should be careful about making friends and whom they follow. There could be people who are over 50 and pretending to be friends. Students should only friend and follow people they know in real life and keep their social media accounts private. Students shouldn't share their location or meet with anyone else except for people they know in real life and trust. Always be kind and generous online because everyone has feelings," explained Rashi.

"For me, the best lesson of the day was how to deal with people who are angry or upset. Students learned how to handle emotions, respond to unexpected situations, control themselves and avoid confrontation with people who say mean things. Bear Clan Patrol members are helping the environment by picking up unwanted items from the street. They help with the mental health of homeless people by talking to them, providing them with food and donating things they need," said Rejoice Liho, a Grade 12 student.

Later in the afternoon, the students, Bear Clan Patrol and Winnipeg Police Service members walked through the West Broadway area. The first experience inspired many students to join the volunteer team at Bear Clan Patrol.

Gordon Bell is the second school to be part of the simulated youth patrol after General Wolfe students walked together with Bear Clan Patrol in February 2020.   

Bear Clan Patrols members offer items like packaged food, water, granola bars, hats, mitts, socks, boots, jackets and blankets to people who need them. Bear Clan is accepting donations of these items from the community for sharing them in winter.

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