When Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers come across a child who has been involved in a stressful or traumatic situation, giving them an OPP Community Bear can help them regain a sense of calmness and security. Community Bears aren’t just soft and cuddly, studies have shown that kids who spend a lot of time holding a stuffed animal tend to feel calmer and more secure, and that teddy bears can even help children cope with psychological trauma.
Thanks to a new partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) Credit Union, these bears will continue to be made available in communities across Ontario. Funding for the Community Bear Program is administered by the OPP Youth Foundation, and OPP Community Safety Services (CSS) manages the dissemination of bears to detachments across the province.
“As a mother, it breaks my heart to hear about innocent children who have fallen victim to a tragic circumstance,” explains Inspector Mary Shannon, Commander of CSS. “Community Bears provide an opportunity for officers to reassure and comfort our youngest victims, which begins the process of rebuilding their sense of safety and security.”
To celebrate this new partnership, an event was held on November 18, 2022 at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia. Grade six students from Huntsville Public School were invited to attend a presentation about the program. They also had the opportunity to visit the OPP Museum, the Provincial Operations Centre and Fleet Services. Meeting OPP Canine Handlers and their four-legged partners was the highlight of their visit.
The OPP would like to thank OPP Youth Foundation and the OPPA Credit Union for their support. Additional information about the Community Bear Program can be located here.