Police programme about ‘breaking down barriers’

Building relationships . . . Outside the South Dunedin Police Station after the final Rangatahi Fitness Leadership Programme are (back from left) Sergeant John Hedges, Zaniquah Marsh (12), Romeo Adams (13), Troy Werahiko (11), Senior Constable Toni Wall, (front from left) Keiran Petrie (12), Jackson Fieldwick (12) and Wairua Tairi Hema-Rees (13). PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

A fitness programme aimed at building relationships with police has had a positive effect on children’s behaviour.

The Rangatahi Fitness Leadership Programme had its final session last Thursday.

The police-run programme was designed around fitness, participation and leadership, programme co-ordinator Senior Constable Toni Wall said.

Year 6, 7 and 8 pupils from Bathgate Park and Carisbrook Schools took part.

“It’s about breaking down barriers between young people and the police, and just having fun,” Snr Const Wall said.

“It’s really positive.”

For two mornings a week, pupils did one hour of fitness with local police officers before having a healthy breakfast.

Snr Const Wall said it had a positive effect on the pupils involved.

The feedback from the schools was that the children were engaging more in class.

Sessions during the eight-week programme included running up Jacob’s Ladder, circuits, playing games, yoga and karate.

For the past three years, the programme included cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail, but a lack of funding meant this was not possible this year.

Bathgate Park School pupils Jackson Fieldwick and Wairua Tairi Hema-Rees have been involved for the past three years.

Jackson said he liked running up Jacob’s Ladder and he managed to run up it six times.

Wairua said he was less of a fan of the fitness side of the programme, but enjoyed the breakfast.

Snr Const Wall said “some of the kids are really keen to come back when they are in high school and do it again”.