When the Cary Leeds Tennis Center and New York Junior Tennis Learning (NYJTL) approached Deputy Inspector Ernest Morales III, Commanding Officer of the 42 Precinct, with the concept of a tennis program for neighborhood kids that would include his officers – he knew instantly his answer was “yes.”
“Bringing my cops together with kids and sports is a great idea,” said D.I. Morales. “And given the program is 10-weeks long, it also gives everyone involved a chance to really get to know one another.”
Meeting every Saturday through March 18, from 4pm – 7pm, the program attracts upwards of 40 children each week who are taught personal responsibility and building life skills that are also applicable on the tennis court. “The entire staff at the Cary Leeds Tennis Center has been amazing with the care and effort they are putting into this program,” said D.I. Morales.
“The goal is to genuinely affect the character-centered behavior in a child both now and long term,” said Jessica Kruskamp, Chief Education Officer for New York Junior Tennis & Learning.
“Through comprehensive, sustainable and positive youth engagement strategies like Volley Against Violence, NYJTL builds character in under-resourced youth living in the most challenging neighborhoods in New York City for a lifetime of success on and off the court.”
There are four levels of engagement children demonstrate as they become responsible for their own actions and to the community around them: Respect, Effort, Self-Direction/Planning, and Caring/Empathy. The program seeks to impart these characteristics upon the children, who will internalize them so they are self-motivated in their actions. They can then transfer these characteristics beyond the parameters of the program and into their daily lives.
“There are seven officers from the 4-2, and myself participating so far. All of my cops are volunteering on their own time, which really shows me how much they enjoy it – and that they see the positive impression they are making on these kids,” said D.I. Morales
The program begins with a classroom discussion focused on various components of that week’s theme. The kids and the cops then move to the tennis courts, where they do some warm-up stretching before getting into the swing of things. The spirit of effort and teamwork come alive as the coaches from the tennis center provide rigorous instruction to both the kids and the cops. The program closes with some reflective questioning and a group dinner.
“Our officers are truly wonderful. They are caring, funny, engaged, warm, and hold kids to high standards” said Jessica Kruskamp. “I truly think this program will build positive relationships between kids and cops.
View Original Article at NYPD News