Bear Clan's youth patrol shows kids 'a better way of life,' organizer says
‘This is one way we can show them that we can make a difference,’ says co-ordinator Angela Klassen
An organizer of Winnipeg's West Broadway Bear Clan Patrol says the group's youth patrol is showing kids in the area how they can make a difference in their community.
The group hits the streets to hand out items like granola bars, bottled water, hygiene products and sunscreen to people in the area.
The kids also keep an eye out for any sharp items like needles lying around — though the adults have to be the ones to pick them up, said co-ordinator Angela Klassen.
"They look forward to it every week," she said.
Aidan Brandeau said he's been walking with the group for almost five years and has learned a lot in that time.
"There's a lot more homeless people in this area, in my neighbourhood and community, than I would have ever thought before. There's more people that need help than I knew," he said.
"It's nice to help people in my community. And it makes the community feel a bit safer, too."
Klassen said the group provides a way to teach kids how to give back to their community. It also shows them examples of how they can work toward solutions to problems they see in their neighbourhoods.
"It's extremely important for the kids to get out into the community. It's teaching them to be interactive with their community, teaching them that they should be doing better, and it's showing them a better way of life," she said.
"These kids are … surrounded by inner city problems and this is one way we can show them that we can make a difference, no matter what walk of life we walk."
The patrol group also teaches participants about aspects of Indigenous culture, like smudging, she said.
And more recently, the patrol has started working in partnership with the Winnipeg Police Service on Project Return, which focuses on missing and murdered people in the community, Klassen said.
The kids in the youth patrol get homework to do every week and for Project Return that meant making posters to help let people in the area know about it.
"It's a big community effort, trying to put this together for our youth and work on a project that we can be proud of as Bear Clan," Klassen said.
With files from Walther Bernal