The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Fairport Central School District realized a need at the Pines of Perinton and came to the Town of Perinton to see if it could fill it.
An abundance of young kids with a whole summer in front of them, not much to do, and limited means to get to the Summer Camps offered by the Perinton Recreation & Parks Department.
MCSO contacted Recreation Director Jeff Nutting to discuss ways to support these children. Working collaboratively, it was decided the best way to provide was to bring a program to their own backyard.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, Recreation Supervisor Mike Clark has brought a truckload of gear, a tent, water and several assistants to the Pines to bring recreation to the kids.
The first few weeks, about 20 kids ventured up the hill for some fun. Then word caught on and the numbers have creeped up to about 40 registered kids.
“When we first started discussing this, it wasn’t a matter of ‘can we do it?’… it was a matter of how quickly we could put it together and how much we could do,” Town Supervisor Ciaran Hanna said. “Every kid needs things to do. Every kid needs a way to have fun with friends and maybe meet some new kids. Thankfully, we have the means to make that happen for them.”
The impromptu camp is evolving as it goes along. For example, the Fairport Fire Department and Perinton Ambulance have planned demonstrations on what they do. “I have spoken with community partners, and the support for keeping this going and growing it is very strong,” Hanna said. “I am excited about the participation at all levels.”
And the Sheriffs didn’t just get the conversation started and then walk away. Almost every day has featured a few officers stopping by to play dodgeball or soccer with the kids.
“They have been very supportive,” Clark said. “It is great for the kids to see them get down on the grass and play with them.”
According to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office A Zone Captain Scott Alberti, often, when someone has interaction with law enforcement it is during a time of conflict or crisis in their life, when stress levels are high.
“The goal for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is to have interactions with the kids and their families in a more positive, casual setting,” Alberti said. “From Day One we observed change. At first some of the kids were timid or shy around the deputies, but after being around them, they quickly became more comfortable.”
This program gives law enforcement a chance to leave a positive impression with kids and their families, which will hopefully build trust and communication.
“The success of this program will not only impact the youth, but also our deputies,” Alberti said. “I myself found it very rewarding to attend one of these sessions and play a game of dodgeball with the kids. MCSO is proud of this start up program and is grateful of the work accomplished by its community partners.”