WESTPORT, Conn. – It’s not often you see kids throwing dodge balls at police officers, and vice versa. But that’s exactly what will happen at Staples High School as Westport students and police join forces Friday for the second annual Dodge-A-Cop Dodgeball Tournament.
The event, a benefit for Toys for Tots, will feature mixed teams of officers and kids, Westport Youth Services Coordinator Elaine Daignault said.
“Dodge-A-Cop is a way for high school kids to have some fun with officers while raising funds for other kids this holiday season.” Daignault said in a statement. “Kids can form their own teams of five for $20, or register as individuals for $5, and organizers will assign a police officer to play on each team.”
The event is organized by the Westport Police-Youth Collaborative, a program created by the Westport Police Department and Westport Youth Services to promote positive interactions between kids and police officers. The Westport Youth Commission and the Staples High School Teen Awareness Group are also helping.
“This event is a great way for us to get know kids we may not otherwise get to meet and an opportunity for young people to see us as regular people out of uniform,” Westport Youth Detective Sereniti Dobson said. “The officers who participated last year had a great time playing with the kids and enjoyed a pizza dinner with their team.”
Dobson, along with Westport DARE Officer Ned Batlin, helped to launch the Westport Police-Youth Collaborative. Both are also active with the Westport Youth Commission and the Staples Teen Awareness Group, a student club that aims to empower students to make safe and responsible decisions.
Dodge-A-Cop is just one of several events organized by the Westport Police-Youth Collaborative. The group has also hosted several “Cop Shops,” informal, roundtable discussions between cops and kid that aim to build supportive relationships and a better understanding between both groups, Daignault said.
The tournament will be held at Staples Field from 6 to 8 p.m. Students interested in participating can register at Staples during lunch shifts or contact Elaine Daignault at Elained@westportct.gov .
Kids of all ages are encouraged to come out and watch as well as bring a donation for Toys for Tots.
Residents or students who would like to volunteer or learn more about the Westport Police-Youth Collaborative can contact Daignault at 203-341-1165 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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