Officers and kids eat, play together in Youth Night

Program pairs police with middle school-age students

Play kickball with cops, enjoy pizza and refreshments, Parisi speed school and pool games, win prizes and more. Kids from all around the area, not just Rockford, are invited to have a blast at MVP Sports Club this Friday, Feb. 10 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the seventh annual Rockford Youth Night. The event is a joint venture between local law enforcement to encourage physical activity and build positive relationships between youngsters and public safety officers.

Kids in grades six through eight have a great time in a drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free environment, enjoying hours of sports activities or just hanging out. This year, Rockford Public Safety Officer Aaron Sawyer organized Rockford Youth Night, but he is joined the night of the event by other Rockford officers as well as deputies from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and Michigan State Police troopers. Sawyer said the evening’s entertainment is a positive experience for the kids as well as an event the law officers look forward to.

“It’s always a blast. We have as much fun as the kids,” Sawyer said.

Dodgeball is one of the favorite sports, but kids are invited to play basketball, volleyball, swim and enjoy pizza (until 10 p.m.). The cost of the event is $6.

The Youth Night is one of several community outreach events in which the Rockford Public Safety officers and other local law enforcement participate. There are also National Night Out, a kids’ triathlon, Shop with a Cop, and other programs designed to provide positive interaction between youngsters and law officers.

A past organizer of the Rockford Night Out said that it is important to build good relationships between officers and kids as well as adults in communities.

“We want kids up and about,” Sawyer said. For more information about Rockford Youth Night, call the Rockford Department of Public Safety at (616) 866-9557 or see page B2 of this week’s Squire.

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