Summer Gang Camp in Tulare

July 23, 2008 8:26:18 PM PDT
Tulare Police Officers have started a brand new summer program for children to keep them from joining gangs.Officer Rocha: "Francisco, you're team leader. What have you done?"

Tulare Police Officers help a group of 10 to 12 year olds build their own obstacle course. As the children hool-a-hoop or tried to aim a ball, officers hope the activity teaches them about active listening.

Bryan Burleson: "We asked questions before we did so we can understand what we're supposed to do."

Christina Mackey: "Getting them to work together a lot of them are all about me and they have to learn that in life you gotta work with others."

Tulare Police say gang violence is far too prevalent in Tulare County so they formed a two-week camp this summer to give certain kids more one on one attention they may not get during the school year. They're also taught about anger management and self esteem.

Officers say it's critical to target 10-12 year olds because they're vulnerable to peer pressure to join a gang or try drugs and are looking to form their own identity. Children here say they can be confronted with gangs.

Bryan Burleson: "A little bit because they see people are trying to act cool and they think it's cool but really it's kind of dumb."

As part of the camp the students will go into the city to do yard work and help clean up graffiti so they learn to give back to the community they live in.

Officers hope field trips like helping out a graffiti abatement team and visiting different city buildings like the Tulare District Hospital will also get the kids to think about their future careers.

Mackey: "Its only two weeks do I expect them to change immediately no but I know for myself as a kid summer camp was great it was something I remembered forever and I'm hoping that these kids will do the same."

The Tulare Police Department fully funded the summer program this year but next year, they'll have to look for grants or other ways to keep it going.

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