Badge Buddies: Students say ‘thanks’ to local police officers
Published 10:29 am Monday, March 21, 2016
Students in the Carter Cares after school program at Valley Forge Elementary have been taking the month of March to say thank you to police officers for the work they do to keep the community safe.
“We wanted the kids to learn to be appreciative of what the police officers do,” said Norma Kyte, one of the program coordinators.
Many times, the children see a police officer and they don’t really know what an officer does or they don’t think of the officer as a person just like them, Kyte said.
“We wanted them to have fun and get to know the officers personally,” she added.
With that in mind, Kyte and her colleague Amanda Colbaugh but together the Badge Buddy program.
During the month of March, students will about a variety of law enforcement topics — the many different roles officers play in the community, how and when to call 911, internet safety and how to identify basic safety signs. The students will also get to spend four afternoons making friends with their own Badge Buddy as officers with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office will visit the program. The officers will spend time with the students talking to them about their work and encouraging them to stay active with things like a game of basketball or a run on the Badge Buddy Obstacle Course.
“The students love having the officers available to spend time with them,” Kyte said. “The program leaders are happy to have so many officers volunteer their time to be positive role models for the students.”
“Our goal for the program was for the officers to feel appreciated for everything that they do in our community and schools to keep us safe, and we hope they had some fun with our students, too,” she added.
As part of that appreciation, the students put together “survival kits” as presents for the officers. Each kit included items like Gatorade, a snack, ink pens and hand sanitizer — all things an officer might need while patrolling the county or investigating a crime. Attached to the side of each gift bag was a note thanking the officers and asking them to stay safe.
And, Kyte it was not just the students who have taken the program to heart.
“The parents have been really receptive of it, too,” she said. “They have sent in the biggest loads of cookies.” Those cookies were delivered to the Carter County Sheriff’s Office for the officers to enjoy.
After getting to spend time with the officers, Kyte said several of the children have told her that they want to be police officers when they grow up.