Abbotsford Police Insp. Kevin Wright asks for a volunteer from the Clearbrook Elementary school audience.
Pace Loewen is brought to the front of the crowd, and Wright asks him to rip a piece of paper in half, followed by a newspaper and a magazine.
Then Wright produces a YellowPages phone book. Pace tries to tear it, but when he can’t, Sgt. Mike Novakowski steps forward.
The officer is given a one-minute time limit, in which he aptly destroys three closed phone books one after another. The kids cheer wildly.
Novakowski uses the demonstration – held Tuesday morning at Clearbrook Elementary – to address the value of inner strength. It’s part of the Operation Acorn program now making the rounds at local elementary schools.
“Just like you exercise your muscles, you have to exercise your inner strength. By doing that, you can have a good life,” he says.
The new initiative is an offshoot of the Abbotsford Police Department’s Operation Impact anti-gang talks, which were previously presented to secondary and middle school students.
While Operation Impact took a more hard-core approach to the issues of crime and gang activity, Operation Acorn’s focus is on kindness and making good choices.
Novakowski – the creator of the “Operation” series – talks to the kids about the importance of being kind to themselves and others.
Another demonstration involves a group of about a dozen kids passing a smaller student through a makeshift “window” as if rescuing him from an emergency situation.
Novakowski tells the students that, just like the boy was physically lifted by others, they can be uplifting with their words and actions.
Near the end of the talk, he presents an acorn to the crowd, saying he found it while out on a walk one day.
“Inside this little acorn is a seed with the promise of becoming a mighty oak … Inside of every one of you is the promise of doing something great in your life.”
After the presentation, Grade 5 student Bobby Grewal said he found the talk “inspiring” because he wants to be a police officer one day.
He said he learned that “you don’t have to be cool to be important; you just have to be yourself.”
Nav Jalan, also in Grade 5, said he came away with similar information.
“I learned to be kind and to be safe,” he said.