Firefighters, youth connect at the library

by Samantha McKay- September 7, 2018

Stop, Drop and Read, a new program at the Inuvik Centennial Library, is set to foster a positive relationship between youth and the community’s volunteer firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters Ray Solotki, left, and Jonathon Michel read a book at the Stop Drop and Read program September 2.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

Assistant librarian and volunteer firefighter Kolin Murray came up with the idea for the program as a way for firefighters to engage with youth who are often spending time in the library on the weekend anyway.

He said anyone is welcome to participate in the program – parents, too – but it is especially meant to engage with youth who are hanging out in the library without much else to do.

“The idea is to read to kids or to have them read to us,” said Murray. “I want to take advantage of the fact that kids are in here already. If they’re in here without a program to participate in, that’s good too, but I want to provide just a little structure – but nothing too formal.”

It won’t be all about reading, said Murray. Firefighters will also be playing games, making crafts and sharing snacks with youth.

He said the program will adapt to what the youth who attend are interested in doing that day.

“I don’t have a very set idea of how I want this to go. I just want to see positive interaction between the firefighters and the youth,” said Murray.

Kolin Murray, left, and fire chief Cynthia Hammond listen to a Stop Drop and Read participant read a book.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

“They’re curious about us as firefighters, we’re just interacting with them as ourselves,” he said. “It’s good for kids to foster healthy relationships with people in the community … and we can offer that, and also stuff like showing them our gear or a tour through the fire station.”

During the September 2 Stop, Drop and Read program, the firefighters brought in a thermal imaging device for the youth to try out, which was very popular.

So far, the program has run twice on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m., but Murray said it is an informal program and will sometimes run on Saturdays, too.

Murray said his colleagues at the fire department are enthusiastic about volunteering with the Stop, Drop and Read program.

“There’s a whole group of firefighters that are enthusiastic about helping with it. It’s really fun for us, too,” he said. “Last time, nine of us firefighters sat around a table and read a book and played a game with the kids and we had just as much fun as them.”

Murray said the NWT Literacy Council has donated some books to the program.

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