YORK – York Public Schools was back at it again with enriching activities for students while school was out for Spring Break on Friday, March 9. After some square dancing lessons with the Shirts and Skirts club of York, students then journeyed to Sunset Bowl and Lounge for some bowling with York Police Officer Jeff Brown.
The goal of this activity was to make connections between the students and police officers in the community. If students feel comfortable around police officers, then hopefully they will feel more likely to go to them when they have a problem.
Often times, students, especially those younger in age, may feel intimated by those in uniform. This Bowling With Officers activity showed the students that there is nothing to be nervous about in approaching an adult in uniform.
While attending an afterschool convention, Carol Baker, the afterschool coordinator here in York, heard from police officers in Sydney and Omaha about their experiences building relationships with students in their communities by participating in the local afterschool activities. With bowling already on the schedule for Friday, Baker decided to extend an invite to the officers of the York Police Department.
“We feel it is important to build relationships between our students and law enforcement officers,” said Baker. “These relationships help our students build trust with the police officers in our community. They will see them as their friends instead of someone they fear when they need help.”
York Police Chief Edward Tjaden reported that the department is happy to be part of this program, and he feels that activities like this help the youth interact with the officers in an informal environment.
“In today’s world, we all see quite of bit of negative attention swirling around law enforcement, so when we were invited to participate in a program that recognizes us as a positive influence and positive role models, we were truly honored,” said Chief Tjaden.
Chief Tjaden was pleased with the shift supervisor’s decision to send Officer Jeff Brown because he is the department’s newest officer. The department is excited to get his face and name out in the community.
Officer Brown spent time bowling with each small group of students by alternating lanes throughout the afternoon, and he walked around periodically to give high fives and fist bumps to encourage students as they bowled. His participation in the afternoon event brought smiles to all the kids’ faces.
“I feel this program is beneficial for the York Police Department as well as for the young children growing up in our fine community,” said Officer Brown. “I was honored to be asked to take part in the activity because I feel it will help them be at ease when a police officer is in their presence. I hope to take part in more opportunities such as this in the future.”
The YPS afterschool program hopes to do more activities like this one in the future, and the police department is on board with helping them achieve it. A strong relationship between those in uniform and the youth growing up here is vital for the community, organizers said, noting that police officers, fire fighters, veterans, etc. are the role models the children of York need in their lives.