For VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.
Recent killings by police officers have raised tensions in some American communities. The Washington Post newspaper reported that police officers have killed 24 unarmed black men in the past year. These deaths have led to anti-police demonstrations in several U.S. cities.
The Maryland–National Capital Park Police is reaching out to young people with a program called Cops Camp for Kids. The program started in 1998 as a way to bring the police and the community together in a positive environment.
Lakeisha Robinson helps run Cops Camp for Kids. She has been a police officer for nine years.
“A lot of children grow up in neighborhoods where they only see [the] negative…I want them to see that we’re not all out here to lock everyone up. We’re here to mentor; we’re here to be a listening ear, because, believe it or not, some of the kids don’t have that.”
About 40 children from nine to 12 years old joined the program this year. They are learning about what it’s like to be a police officer — or “cop.”
Police officer Randy Green showed his shiny black motorcycle to the children. They formed a circle around him. They asked questions about his job. The children watched in amazement as the police officer drove his motorcycle through an obstacle course.
The children also got to learn about police horses. A police officer explained how to take care of the horses. She showed how the police train horses to ignore noises and other distractions.
Afterward, the children got to ride one of the police horses.
The young people also went on a series of special field trips. They visited a Secret Service training center. The Secret Service is the agency that protects President Obama and his family.
The campers learned about espionage on a visit to the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
The police also took the children to a courthouse to watch a real trial.
There was also time for more usual camp activities -- swimming, bowling, and laser tag. But for many campers, it was the police activities that make them want to return.
Eleven-year-old Kya Ebuwei attended Cops Camp for the second year.
“I think it’s a really good idea to have the officers connect with the kids and give them the insight on their job and what they do, so we know why they’re protecting us and how much they love their job.”
Officer Lakeisha Robinson says each camper shows that Cops Camp for Kids is a success.
"Even now, we have so many repeat campers that come back every year, and I just love it. It warms my heart because it’s telling me that I’m actually making a difference."
I’m Anne Ball.
Julie Taboh wrote this report for VOA News. Adam Brock adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
positive – adj. good or useful
amazement – n. a feeling of being very surprised or amazed
obstacle course – n. a series of objects that people or animals in a race have to jump or climb over, go around, go under, etc.
distractions – n. something that makes it difficult to think or pay attention
espionage – n. the things that are done to find out secrets from enemies or competitors: the activity of spying
insight – n. the ability to understand people and situations in a very clear way