Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation
Winner of the 2018 Out-of-School Time Champion Award
Among many programs and events that we host for our community to come out, engage, learn and break bread with us the newest and most impactful for our community, families and youth is our Community Unity Night Event. This event came about due to the unfortunate death of a young adult on our property during the time we had youth in the building. We had staff that did not want to talk to the officers. We found this to be due to (negative) experiences they had personally had or seen their family members have with the police or events they heard of. Our event brings our police department together with the community in a open non-threatening engaging environment.
Though our event is older teens and adults in the community, we know this reaches our youth because in order for them to change, it has to start at home.It gives the community an opportunity to ask questions of the officers and receive general information which can help them learn and understand more about the job of an officer and why they have to take some of the actions that they do. This program opened the doors for more productive communication between those in the community and officers, it set a precedence that we are working to unite and be the positive influencer for the good of our community but especially our youth.
We now have a partner officer program which allows for us to have 1 officer in the center with the youth, to engage and be a part of their activities. The youth get to build a genuine relationships with the officers through play and learning. The program we have established is small but it is building bridges and given insight to those that need to work together, be there for each other and trust one another- families and our police department.