SQUAMISH (NEWS 1130) – With everyone practising physical distancing and staying home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrating a birthday can be tough.
It can be especially hard for youngsters, who may not understand why they can’t have their friends together to celebrate turning a year older. But children in Squamish may be treated to something special amid the pandemic.
Enter the Squamish RCMP.
“We decided to set up an initiative for kids who maybe can’t go out for their birthdays or have birthday parties where we would organize a police vehicle to go to their home, to put the lights on, the siren on, play a little tune that they really like, and just wish them a happy birthday,” Sgt. Sacha Banks explained. “We thought that might help sort of bring some good smiles to kids today in the community.”
Is your child's birthday coming up? Is your child upset that they don't get
to spend it with family & friends? The Squamish RCMP would like to help
brighten your child's special day during this pandemic! Contact us and we will send a police car with lights & sirens.
— Squamish RCMP (@SquamishRCMP) April 8, 2020
She told NEWS 1130 the idea came to the Squamish RCMP after other departments across Canada and the world started to do something similar.
“We just kind of wanted to start this initiative in the community to spread some cheer to a group that we know is struggling in these times that we are currently in,” she said.
The initiative has already had a bunch of takers, too.
Banks said the RCMP has received a number of calls from parents about local birthdays. On Thursday, she said four kids will be treated to a special visit, with many more expected in the days to come.
— Squamish RCMP (@SquamishRCMP) April 8, 2020
As for a favourite tune, Banks said some of the songs requested have included “Dance Monkey” — one of Banks’ “all-time faves,” and of course, the traditional birthday song.
“We’re quite excited to play some of that for them. I think we’ve had ‘Magic in the Air’, ‘Changes by Fall’ — so we’re seeing a couple of those little songs,” she said. “I think kids tend to pick up things that they’re hearing on the radio or things that make them smile, so we’re really excited to do that for them.”
Other police departments in B.C. have also begun their own initiatives to spread some cheer amid the pandemic, she added, mainly things specific to their communities.
“We’ve seen a lot of stuff across the country, with Oak Bay, the RCMP in other jurisdictions, with Vancouver Police Department, where they’re kind of doing their own little things. We obviously see the 7 o’clock hour where emergency services are supporting our healthcare workers. We’re seeing stuff where individuals — particularly seniors — within our community are having birthdays and their supporting that as well,” she said.
Happy 4th birthday Julia! (note: the people in the video are socially distanced but in familial clusters. Familial clusters?!? Wo, patent pending on that term! pic.twitter.com/zqaZOq9WoX
— Oak Bay Police (@OakBayPolice) April 7, 2020
“I think anything that we can do to try and help through these trying times, we’re all the better for it.”
Banks said even police officers live their lives day-to-day during these times, and they just want to help bring something positive about.
And if you’re worried such initiatives are impacting operations, don’t be, Banks said.
“I want people to remember this does not affect our frontline workers,” she explained. “The people who are coming in to do things such as these are individuals who are youth officers, who, obviously given the fact that schools are closed, are being re-aligned to do just small little things to make the community shine and be happy.”
Banks said she, a parent herself, has even come in on days off to help out.
“We care about our kids,” she told NEWS 1130. “They just don’t fully understand the magnitude of what’s going on in the world, and whatever we can do to bring that compassionate side out in ourselves and help the community put a smile on their face, we’re going to do that.”
But, not every child apparently wants a visit from the police.
“A little boy in Lions Bay, it’s his sixth birthday, but he like fire trucks more than police cars, so we reached out to Lions Bay Fire and they’re going to assist us by doing that drive by,” Banks said.
At the end of the day, it’s about the kids.
If your child in the Squamish area has a birthday coming up, you can reach out to the RCMP by emailing your kid’s birthday, age, address, and favourite song to email@example.com.