Truro Police Service Const. Bruce Lake, one of the service's school resource officers, has teamed up with Truro Junior High School guidance counsellor Susan Gaudet and behaviour support staff Kelly Hume to submit a one-time grant proposal for a crime reduction grant. The trio learned recently that their request was successful, with $2,300 coming from the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.
"What we hope to do is provide support and provide services to children that are needing a hook," said Gaudet. "Those students that are needing to stay motivated in school. We're looking at alternative ways of learning."
The issue, said Lake, is one that schools globally are tackling.
"Our ultimate goal is crime reduction," said Lake, who is in his second of a three-year term as the school resource officer. While he is the resource officer for other schools in Truro, except for Cobequid Educational Centre, he spends the majority of his time at the junior high school because of the size of the student body.
"We're trying to help youth make better choices," he said.
"And make better connections so students know who to go to with questions, or where to go," added Gaudet.
The program, which will kick off in the fall at the school, will help students with at-risk behaviours by providing community-based learning opportunities to challenge thinking and behaviours. The program could include group meetings, motivational activities and community experiences.
"We're looking to get kids together and teach them leadership skills, and reward them with opportunities to actually use those skills," said Gaudet.
"This will help them see people in a different way, and seeing and making connections with those people," added Hume.
Since Lake began as the school resource officer, Hume said the students see him at the school on a regular basis.
"The fact that they physically see him here every day is huge," she said. "It creates a relationship that they might not have had a chance to form and the students know they can go to him if they need to."
Lake said the students, while they may have been apprehensive at first to see him at the school, are now even making appointments with him to talk about issues.
"I've had only positive encounters with the students," he said. "I like to keep a positive atmosphere."
Gaudet said teachers at the school will help identify the students that may benefit from the program next year. They don't have a set number of students in place for the program, and said it could vary.
"We could even see different groups of students during the program," Gaudet said.
By being at the school, Lake said the staff also uses him as a resource, including the principals.
"With discipline, sometimes they will include me in that input," he said. "I will sometimes give insight to the students. We will often talk about where their choices they are making could take them and what could happen if they continue making those choices."
Along with the project at the junior high school, Colchester County also saw another recipient of a one-time grant. Millbrook First Nation community members, Millbrook Band Council and the Millbrook RCMP were successful in a ‘Millbrook Rez Watch' project application.