Trinity Randazzo is a grade 11 student at Gladstone Secondary in Vancouver and a first year VPD Cadet.
She discovered the Cadet program through her older sister Alicia – who was the first VPD Cadet in family. Alicia joined in hopes of getting a head start on learning what it takes to be a police officer – something she was aspiring to do as a career later in life. And while it originally took Trinity much more convincing to sign up, she will tell you today that she has no regrets and in fact, it is one of the best decisions she’s ever made in her life.
“I have really enjoyed getting to know all the Cadets and hearing everyone’s story,” explains Trinity. “I used to really keep to myself and was a bit closed off. But Cadets has shown me that I’m actually quite a social person who gets along great with people. It opened up a lot of doors for me. Cadets have really helped me get me out of the bubble that I’ve been in for a long time.”
Trinity didn’t have the easiest home-life growing up. Her dad was in and out of her life in the early years and then wasn’t present at all as she got older.
“My dad put my family in a rough position many times because of his addictions. This impacted our family’s mental health and our very family was very destroyed for a long time.”
Despite this, she and her sister have found a path to healing and rose above this challenging experience. The personal growth that Trinity’s mom has seen in her in just seven months has been remarkable.
“The program has had a huge impact on Trinity,” says her mom, Corrina. “When she started, she was naturally a shy kid and was intimidated by the program – so it was very hard for her to leave her comfort zone to attend. But since then, her social skills and leadership skills have grown so much.”
“I knew the program was amazing and it would open her eyes to something new, but I really can’t believe how far she has come.”
One of the most surprisingly things Trinity has learned about herself through the Cadets is that she is a leader. She has recently been noticing – and appreciating – that her fellow Cadets have been turning to her for direction, feedback and instruction. This is something she hasn’t experienced before but is embracing these new leadership opportunities.
More than anything, it’s the sense of belonging and the comradery among the Cadets that helps propel these youth forward and be able to achieve personal growth.
“It’s been so great learning how all of us came from a different background, a different religion, and lifestyle and we have all become a big family, says Trinity. “I’ve learned that some Cadets have suffered through the loss of family members which really impacted their life, some struggled in their early high school years, some come from a difficult home-life and it hurts to be around family, and some have felt like they had no one to go and felt alone.”
“At the Cadets they feel like they belong, they feel stronger, and they have the rest of us in this community to support them. When we are at Cadets, we feel understood and we feel safe to be ourselves.”
The VPD Cadet program is an intensive youth leadership program for Vancouver students in Grades 10 – 12 that is truly life-changing. Many Cadets are vulnerable youth with high-risk backgrounds, volatile family situations, and/or are refugees new to Canada. This 28-week program is taught by VPD staff, volunteer mentors and guest speakers through a combination of formal classroom sessions and fun real-life experiences. Cadets are taught:
- Resiliency, discipline and leadership skills
- Important elements of health and well-being
- Teamwork, collaboration and peer-to-peer support
- Tangible life-skills such as financial literacy, public speaking, résumé writing and interviewing, social media accountability and literacy, and much more
It is through these teachings that the Cadets are able to build personal confidence and experience self-growth that they might not have thought was even possible. They form life-long friendships with fellow Cadets and many go on to volunteer with the Cadet program long after they’ve graduated. Since the program launched in 2014, the VPD Cadet program has impacted nearly 380 Vancouver teens.
The VPD Cadets are currently accepting applications from Vancouver teens entering Grade 10, 11 and 12 to join Class 9 which begins in September 2022.
If you would like to donate to support the VPD Cadets program or any other VPD officer-initiated community program, please donate online or call us at 604.717.3700. Gifts of all sizes can make a difference.
The Vancouver Police Foundation supports programs and initiatives that fall under one of four pillars: Youth Programs, Mental Health & Addictions, Community Outreach & Engagement, and Technology & Special Equipment. You can help build a safer Vancouver by donating to the Vancouver Police Foundation.