Backpacks passed out at Boys and Girls Club ceremony

Authored by Jim Langham on Aug 2, 2013

The Adams County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in cooperation with the South Adams Boys and Girls Club completed a summer program called the, “All-Star Backpack Challenge.”
Thursday, county officers gathered with members of the Boys and Girls Club to celebrate the success of the program, pass out awards and serve lunch to the children.
The program consisted of a classroom program, reading program and fitness program instructed by local police officers, community business persons and staff members of the local Boys and Girls Club.
The purpose of the challenge was to show the importance of being physically and mentally fit and to help bridge the gap between local police officers and local youth.
Individual goals were set; those that met the goals received a backpack with school supplies inside.
“This was very successful,” said Jodi Mawhorr of the Adams County Sheriff Department, who helped head up the effort. “It was good for us to interact with the kids. We wanted them to see us in a positive light. It was good for us and them. It helped us, we don’t always see kids in a good light.
“Those that reached their goals and earned a backpack will also have the opportunity to shop for school supplies with an officer,” added Mawhorr.
Mawhorr said that funding for the program came from a donation to the FOP from the late David Houck. The money was left to the FOP to be used for a program to help bridge the gap between the youth in the community and law enforcement.
A total of 40 kids participated in the program, Mawhorr said.
“This was nice interaction with the kids. It gave them the opportunity to see us on a personal level instead of law enforcement all the time,” said Berne Police officer Earl Hough. “It was fortunate that they could see us as friends and not enemies. This was a good experience where they could see us for what we are.”
The program was also designed with an anti-bullying segment. Health emphasis included agility, running, squats, lunges, sit-ups and push-ups.
“We challenged them to exercise 20 minutes a day and to read 15 minutes a day,” said Mawhorr.
“When we started this, they were kind of shy,” said Hough. “Now when they see us on the street, they call us by name. This program has definitely worked.”
Coni Mayer, executive director of the Adams County Foundation, referred to Houck as, “incredibly gracious” for the funding he left behind with county youth in view.
“We are very grateful for Mr. Houck’s vision,” said Mayer on Thursday. “We are seeing today the significance and reward of this vision. We are most grateful for this opportunity.”
Mawhorr said that the South Adams emphasis this year was considered a “pilot” for the program.
“We are really hopeful that this program will expand to a county-wide basis next year,” said Mawhorr.

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