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From high-risk to high-reward

From high-risk to high-reward

The Iron John program gives at-risk kids a chance at a better life. It also gave volunteer and policing student Diego Alfaro a chance to grow into a better officer — and mentor.

Diego knows there’s more to being a police officer than enforcing the law.

“I love to be a part of the community ― and make a difference in someone’s life ― which is why I pursued a career in policing.”

As a second year student in Sheridan’s Police Foundations program in the Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies, Diego’s passion to be a positive influence led him to join the Iron John program as a mentor.

“I got involved with Iron John because the program allows students to take a leadership role, and be a part of the community and the lives of youths who may be at risk,” he said.

Iron John, and now Iron Joan for girls, was started by the inspired Sheridan policing instructor Tim Onyschuck, a former police constable and athlete. The programs help boys and girls in danger of going down an unhealthy path to understand that there are many rewarding activities that don’t involve crime ― and also offer a more promising future. The programs also vividly show Sheridan policing students the importance of being a role model in modern policing.

Over 40 mentors visit schools in the Brampton/Bramalea elementary school system, connecting with about 250 boys and girls for after-school activities that range from tutoring to dodgeball.

According to Diego, the kids really responded well to the program. “I remember when the Ontario school staff was on strike, we could no longer continue our after-school program,” he said. “The youths were always asking if Iron John would be back. You could tell this program really affected them in a positive way.”

Diego probably got as much from the program as the youths he helped.

“I learned from this program that a positive figure in a youth’s life can change their view and behaviour,” he noted. “You can always make a difference just by having a conversation with a youth, and anyone can do it.”