On a normally quiet winter break morning, the Willis Intermediate School gymnasium was alive with hard-fought basketball and kickball games, thanks to a one-day program run by the Delaware Police Department.
Officer Sean Franks created a free three-day basketball camp over the summer to engage area children in a positive atmosphere and to allow them to interact with Delaware Police officers. Monday’s morning program was a follow-up to that, he said.
“We wanted to follow up to touch base with the kids we met in camp and give them something to do over winter break,” he said. “Gives them a chance to see us outside the police car, outside the uniform.”
Eleven students attended Monday’s program with Franks and three other members of the Delaware Police Department: Sgt. Michael Bolen, Sgt. Jason Flynn and Officer John Needham.
“When I was a kid, I thought police were awesome and I thought playing basketball with them would be good,” Needham said.
But to the kids, they were coaches, not police.
“We want to get the message out that don’t be scared of police when you see them,” Flynn said. “It’s a great way to introduce positive things to these kids – positive messages.”
“The kids have a good time with it,” he said. “It’s nice for them to interact with police officers. It humanizes us a little bit.”
Franks said he plans to again hold the summer camp, which attracted about 35 children in 2012. The camp runs for three hours each day and includes guest speakers and information on bullying and drugs from the officers that volunteer.
Franks and Flynn said they want to hold the camp annually and to also hold a few more one-day programs throughout the year to keep in touch with the children.
Information on attending the summer camp will be give to the Delaware City School children through the schools before the end of the school year.