Officer teams up with local company to publish kids’ stories to connect with youth during Covid

Posted On Friday May 14, 2021
Sgt. Archer is always looking for ways to give back to the community
Sgt. Archer is always looking for ways to give back to the community

An Ottawa Police Service officer, looking for new ways to connect with local youth in the face of Covid restrictions, spearheaded the resurgence of a literary program called, Grow a Writer. Now 30 kids can say they are published authors!

Sergeant Devon Archer, who works as a Neighbourhood Resource Team officer, is used to engaging with the community, but Covid restrictions have made traditional ways of connecting difficult.

“I play for the Ottawa Police Blues Soccer team, and sports are a great way to reach out to kids,” says Sgt. Archer, who's been an OPS officer for 12 years. “I tried to think of something they could do on their own, that perhaps they’d never done before and I thought of storytelling.”

He mentioned the idea to a friend, Stephanie Bertrand, a local publisher with her own company called Baico Publishing and she loved the idea. Apparently, the kids did too, because they got thirty entries in just two months.

“The stories we received were in a lot of writing styles and genres, and so imaginative,” says Sgt. Archer.

Stephanie edited, designed and formatted the stories for free.

Each of the kids who sent in a story got a free copy of the book. Sgt. Archer delivered 90% of the books himself over the last few weeks. “Seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces when I told them their story was in the book and giving them their own copy was the best part of this initiative for me.”

An avid volunteer, Sgt. Archer is always looking for ways to give back to the community. “Making positive connections between youth and emergency services is important,” he says. “Not only are they the officers of tomorrow, they are our residents and future leaders.”  

In addition to giving kids 8 – 16 years old a positive creative outlet and a chance to tell their story, the initiative includes free writing workshops, which improve literacy skills.

The books can be bought for $20 from the Ottawa Police Blues Football Club. Contact them on twitter @OttBlues. All proceeds go towards a scholarship for a deserving child.

Sgt. Archer encourages people to buy the book to support a great cause, and for the wonderful stories.

“Each one is great in their own individual way,” he says, “but check out Nyah’s story, The Little Red Fire Truck, about a girl who suffers the loss of a treasured grandfather.”  

The 2021 Grow a Writer Contest is now underway. Check out the details at http://ottawabluescharityclassic.ca/index2.php#!/Grow_A_Writer.