By Eric White
ESSEX Police are behind an initiative which hopes to help keep kids entertained during the COVID-19 lockdown, and at the same time allow children in Thurrock to pay tribute to the emergency services.
As a show of support to parents and children and a thank you for staying home and saving lives, Essex Police has released five special pictures of its mascot Baloo to help keep kids amused.
Essex Police said on their website: “Here at Essex Police many of us, like you all, are parents who are struggling to teach our children at home, keep a routine going, keep them amused and balance work.
“We recognise that you, the hardworking supportive parents in our county, are no different to us so we decided to do something to help that with an activity we hope the kids will enjoy.
“One of our former staff members, children’s author and artist Tom Knight, has designed five pictures of our mascot, retired police dog Baloo, for children to colour in.
“The pictures show Baloo in a variety of fun poses and also include a rainbow in support of our NHS heroes who are working hard to look after all of us.”
“Baloo, a Belgian Malinois, who has now become the official mascot of Essex Police, is no stranger to surviving adversity and tough times.
“In 2018 she had to prematurely end her career after sustaining life changing injuries.
“Baloo and her handler, PC Ross Ashcroft, were responding to an incident involving a stolen car when Baloo was sadly struck by a vehicle. She was left with a broken pelvis and a badly broken leg which eventually had to be amputated meaning she could no longer serve on the front line.
“But the noble hound overcame her injuries and has now been re-employed by Essex Police as a therapy dog. In her new role Baloo visits people in the community, as well as staff and officers at our force, to support their wellbeing and welfare.
“The pictures of Baloo, which children can colour in, are available to download on the Essex Police website. Once they are coloured in kids can also put them in the windows of homes to support those working to keeping you safe both in the NHS and Essex Police.
“Our officers will take photos of any pictures they see whilst out on patrol and tweet them. And adults with social media accounts can also take photos of their children with their coloured-in Baloo and tag us on Twitter @EssexPoliceUK.”
Assistant Chief Constable Paul Wells, who is leading the Essex Police response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said: “Here at Essex Police we absolutely understand the challenges faced by the parents and carers in our county.
“Many of us, like you, are parents and are also struggling to balance home schooling, working from home , supporting elderly relatives and trying to keep life as normal as possible.
“Our children, like yours, are also missing school, their friends, playing out and just being kids.
“So to show our support for you, and also as a huge thank you for staying home and saving lives, we’ve put five pictures of our lovely Baloo on our website for kids to colour in.
“Baloo is no stranger to surviving difficult challenges in her life so we couldn’t think of anyone else better to inspire children and all of us.
“The pictures will give kids a fun activity to complete each day during their home schooling.
“We are also asking families to put their finished pictures up in windows to show support for Essex Police and our NHS colleagues.
“Our officers out patrolling will take photos and tweet them on our social media channels so your children get recognised for their artistic efforts.
“This is just our way of saying thanks and that we’re all in this together. We hope you and they enjoy this and please stay home and save lives.”
Baloo says here’s what to do with the pictures of her:
Download the pictures by going to the following link https://www.essex.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/downloads/essex/news/baloo-colouring-sheets.pdf
Colour them in and add any extra pictures to them if you wish;
Stick them up in your window and get mum or dad to share them on social media; tagging @EssexPoliceUK on Twitter.
As an extra activity why not also:
Encourage children to write their own stories about Baloo’s crime fighting endeavours.
Think about writing sentences about Baloo from the factfile below;
have a family colouring-in competition with a prize up for grabs;
get children to write a play to act out about some of Baloo’s adventures.
The Essex Police Museum also has a host of activities for children to enjoy at home. Activities are being posted on the museum twitter account @epolicemuseum and on the museum’s Facebook page.