Los Angeles: From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. this afternoon, a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) mentoring program that includes LAPD officers, the sport of football and young people throughout the San Fernando Valley considered at risk for gang activity sponsored an official "Punt Pass Kick Contest." The event is the culmination of several days of activities designed for both pleasure and mentoring.
In an ongoing effort to engage and influence the Valley’s young people in positive ways, officers from the LAPD’s Van Nuys Gang Enforcement Detail, Van Nuys Jeopardy Program, Van Nuys Explorer Program and players from the official LAPD Centurion Football Team, held special practices for a select group of boys and girls, 8 to 15 years of age. The participants were selected with the help and coordination of the Los Angeles Unified School District, LAPD Operations Valley Bureau, Los Angeles Recreation and Parks District, Mid-Valley Jeopardy Foundation and the San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs.
During the month of September, three mentoring sessions took place on the athletic field of Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks. For nearly two hours on each of those three days, officers and participants interacted with one another, learned about football and had a lot of fun. The intended, successful outcome was for participants to learn basic football skills, such as throwing, kicking and punting the football, while increasing the level of respect and understanding between participants and mentors. It is hoped the activities will be a starting point for future mentoring programs that teach kids to make the right choices and seek positive role models rather than turning to gangs.
Though the mentoring sessions were for pre-selected participants only, the contest was open to the public and free of charge. The winners of each age group will be eligible to participate in the “Sectional Punt Pass Kick Contest" to be held later this year in the city of San Diego. Winners will also be eligible to attend a San Diego Chargers Football game.
With an encouraging turnout and supportive response from the community, and most importantly, because the experience is believed to have been life-altering for many of the participants, future events are being planned.
Questions related to this event may be directed to Lt. Dave Storaker, the officer in charge of the Van Nuys Gang Impact Team, at 818-472-6818.