Blue EDGE in Rural Victoria
Blue Light Victoria’s new Blue EDGE pilot program started to roll out across Victorian Secondary Schools this term. As the Rural Program Coordinator for Ballarat and Shepparton, I have been excited to see how well the programs have been received by all stakeholders including Victoria Police, Department of Education, Community partners and most importantly the youth and their families.
We have been fortunate enough to have already received media attention at our Shepparton site, with Inspector Troy Hargadon and Senior Sgt Louise Richards both discussing Blue EDGE on the radio. Our community stakeholders have also shared multiple posts on social media expressing their support for the initiative at the grass roots level. This program is about creating relationships between police and youth and facilitating opportunities for growth both mentally and physically through authentic connection. We do this by starting our sessions off with 30-40 mins of physical challenges and fitness, followed by conversations around motivational topics over a nutritious meal with peers and police mentors.
At our two rural sites it is clear that children are taking charge of their own well-being by voluntarily committing to attendance consistently. This can easily be mapped across to the Australian framework of School Age Care. Replace the word Educator with Mentor in the below table and acknowledge that whilst care is given, these young people now in high school are increasingly taking charge of their future outcomes. In the Blue EDGE environment we extend upon this and create a supportive, safe space with positive police role models to create memories and lessons to scaffold future learning inside and outside the classroom.
A direct quote from one of the participants last week over breakfast with a mentor was “ Blue EDGE, is one of my strategies to manage my anger. I haven’t missed a session. It really helps me start my day off better” and another “I’m injured, but I’m still here this morning to support the team”. These attitudes are a good indication that the program is already making a positive impact on our future generation. Providing we continue to listen to our participants and value their contribution, Blue EDGE has a bright future and role in our communities, by empowering through mentorship our future leaders.