'Kids have been through a lot': Winnipeg patrol group treats youth volunteers to paint night

After many months of restrictions and a punishing winter, a local neighbourhood patrol group treated its youngest volunteers to a very special paint night.

204 Neighbourhood Watch hosted the workshop for its Kiddie Patrol participants at Kinver Park on Thursday night.

Founder Leila Castro said they have wanted to host the event for a while, but pandemic restrictions made it difficult to plan.

But Castro said it ended up coming at an opportune time for their youth volunteers.

“The kids have been through a lot, not just the pandemic, but even the nasty weather over the past three weeks, and we were thinking it's high time for them now,” Castro said.

“As we all know, painting is therapeutic. It's a normalization activity. They deserve that kind of activity, you know, to relax.”

Nine-year-old Gav Gonsalves has been coming with his parents to 204 Neighbourhood Watch’s Kiddie Patrol since he was three.

He said he likes helping his mom and dad make his community safer.

“We can help them find like dangerous things that can harm other people, like syringes and drugs, so we can help the environment and other people not get hurt,” he said.

He was one of 27 kids who participated in the workshop led by a professional artist. They are all active volunteers with the watch.

Afterwards, kids went on a safe walk, which served as a mock patrol of the neighbourhood. Castro said the experience will help kids learn about the organization’s work and advocacy. They capped it off with a pizza party.

“These are young volunteers and of course, in the future, they will be the ones to continue what we have started,” Castro said.