Interacting with kids sometimes presents special challenges to law enforcement officials. It can be especially difficult in the current state of America.
Like many police departments across the country, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department hosts a number of camps and opportunities for Charlotte youths.
One of those standout programs is the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Envision Academy and one exceptional scholar, Jayvon Tate, who is in his senior year at Vance High School.
“It was an amazing experience talking to people I normally would not converse with,” Tate said. “I enjoyed getting people out of their comfort zone by bringing a whole lot of energy to my group.”
The academy was started several years ago by then-Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney. He wanted a program that gave local kids exposure to different career, college and recreational opportunities.
One program goal is to give the participants skills and opportunities to venture outside their day-to-day life. For Tate, it gave him the space, determination and perseverance to reach his goals even though it was outside of his comfort zone.
“With me being a student-athlete, I surround myself with people who share the same vision as me with the goal being to go to college for free playing sports,” he said. “It was an amazing experience talking to people I normally would not converse with.”
The program provides participants with a scholarship and 160 hours of interaction with officers while increasing their community knowledge, exploring issues that affect the community and creating a platform so they can envision a better future for themselves and Charlotte.
Each week focused on a broad theme that is supported by local businesses and nonprofits: Envision Orientation; Envision Government, Politics and Justice; Envision the City; Envision the Environment; Envision the Economy; Envision Health and Human Services; Envision Education; and Envision the Future.
The scholars also spent time with CMPD officers who serve as mentors during the eight-week program. They are able to build positive relationships with the officers and get to know them on a personal level.
“My relationship with the CMPD officers was pretty great,” Tate said. “They were so understanding and down to earth. We literally could have talked to them about anything we had going wrong or needed help or advice with.”
It was clear Tate gained much more than experience, and the relationships he built will last a lifetime.
This exceptional teenager believes that change will start from each of us doing our part.
“I think what would make our community better would be if the youth would stand up and make a change instead of waiting on someone else to do it,” he said. “And if not that to just be the difference. Look in the mirror and start with yourself.”
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