Taking Cyber on the road

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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New safety society hopes to break down regional walls

The new Cyber Internet Safety Society has been formed to help bring the Cyber bullying program to schools throughout the province. Joining the society include, from left, Wayne Talbot, Barry Mingo as executive director, and Truro Police Service constables Todd Taylor and Jon Keddy. Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News

TRURO - A new Cyber Internet Safety Society means the local Cyber program could soon be rolled out into Atlantic Canada.

"This society gives the program the opportunity to leave the Truro area," said Barry Mingo, the executive director of the society that started at the first of October.

Along with Mingo, the society consists of Wayne Talbot and Truro Police Service constables Jon Keddy and Todd Taylor. Initially based in Truro, the program, which uses a robot character to teach children about bullying, hasn't been able to reach youth outside the area because of mandates under the Town of Truro.

"By forming the society, we can travel out into Nova Scotia and then who knows how far we can take it," Mingo said.

With Keddy and Taylor taking Cyber into local elementary and junior high schools, the society has essentially broken down the walls of where they can go.

But in order to do that, funding is needed and the society can help bring that in.

"Jon, Todd and Barry have been the arms and legs of this operation. Jon and Todd are the ones to take the presentations into the schools," said Talbot, adding fundraising needs to happen at the same time.

"We have to survive on our own and roll this out across the region, but we need funding from partners and sponsorships to do that."

Mingo said the society has already been talking with a number of businesses or organizations.

"The Town of Truro has been a huge supporter of the program," he said.

"They really have been," added Talbot. "They seconded two of their officers to this program full time."

When making a proposal to the town to create the society, the initiative had to demonstrate the society could be financially stable for six months.

The credit union has come on board to support the society, but more is needed.

"We may have to operate on a cost-recovery basis," said Talbot. "Everything Jon and Todd have done so far has been at no charge."

Talbot said the society is working on getting on the agenda of the International Conference for Police and Law Enforcement Executives being held in Toronto in May.

"If we can get to that conference, we are also hoping to make it into three of the local elementary schools there and that may need to be a cost-recovery basis," he said, adding at least one of the schools is in an area where "societal problems are really bad."

Along with the conference in Toronto, the society is hoping to get into other gatherings and already has plans to be a part of the Foster Parents annual general meeting.

On Tuesday, the society visited the correctional program at the local Nova Scotia Community College campus.

While there, said Keddy, a student approached them halfway through the session.

"She had a text message from her daughter asking to be home-schooled because the bullying was so bad," said Keddy.

In the last two months, the Cyber program has been delivered to 2,500 kids in local schools, with another 2,500 to be reached next month.

In the three years the program has been operational, more than 20,000 students have been reached.

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

At a glance:

What: Cyber Internet Safety Society

Where: Offices are located at 779 Prince St.; Barb Allan from The Mortgage Centre donated the office space

Contact: Barry Mingo, executive director: barry@programmedforsafety.org

Website: www.programmedforsafety.org

Note: Cyber Internet Safety has made it to the third round of the Aviva Community Fund, which relies on public votes. Visit www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf15984 for more information or to vote. Voting ends Nov. 26 and the semi-finals begin Dec. 3.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College, Cyber Internet Safety Society, Wayne Talbot and Truro Police Service The Mortgage Centre Aviva Community Fund

Geographic location: TRURO, Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia Toronto

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