Building Connections To Prevent Gun Violence

Gun violence exists in a complex social context that draws on other determinants of health such as poverty, hunger and lack of access to Toronto's civic resources.  Toronto Police Services representative Isabelle Cotton and entertainment mogul Farley Flex spoke about a project to create a cell phone app in connection with the iIMPACT Wraparound initiative to help families and youth who are vulnerable to gun violence find support.  
Isabelle Cotton is an 18 year veteran of the Toronto Police force who has extensive experience in communications and building rapport between youth and the police.  Farley Flex is a prominent individual in the entertainment industry who as served as a National Unicef Ambassador and received the Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award  for Supporting the World’s Most Vulnerable Children. 
Farley related an annecdote in which a friend told him about attending an event hosted by the Jewish National Congress during which the guest of honour was told "If you were to fall in any direction, one of us would be here to catch you."  This comment about a community surrounding and supporting someone in a vulnerable position led to the concept of Wraparound as a project within the Toronto Police Service's iIMPACT initiative.
Islands of poverty in the form of distinct neighbourhoods exist in the midst of the great wealth of the city of Toronto.  Neighbourhood Improvement Areas have been established to facilitate access to resources and programs in poor, troubled communities.  The Wraparound project is seeking to identify 31 representatives from strong NIAs to share best practices and consult on the development of a cell phone app that will facilitate the ability of families to identify and access social resources to mitigate the impacts of poverty and disenfranchisement.
On November 1, 2019, iIMPACT will host an event to raise awareness in the communities they want to involve.  The conference will focus on services available to children and youth who face barriers associated with social determinants of health. Discussion with respect to the proposed app will centre on a visual data mapping component that was a project managed by OCAD University. Testimonials from families who live in neighbourhood improvement areas will be given about how they have prevented their youth from becoming statistics. Researchers and solution-oriented subject matter experts will also particate as the intention of the event is to give families the tools and solutions to deal with early prevention of compacting violence in the community.