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Summer program gives children a chance to play, stay out of trouble

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- An end of summer cookout at Washington High School signaled the end of a 7 week program through the South Bend Police Department's Police Athletic League. The goal was to give kids something to do so they would stay out of trouble and stay away from violence.

Captain Darryl Boykins said he helped start this program 20 years ago with one tennis day.

It has grown into a huge summer program with 500 to 600 kids.

Kids get to try new things like swimming, football and tennis.

Lots of kids showed up to Washington High School and cheered on officers and their peers in a hot dog eating contest and a few rounds of tennis.

"If you look at the current events that go on in our community and others you see that we need things like this from mentoring kids and helping kids to do something where we can get some kind of relationship with law enforcement," said Captain Darryl Boykins of the South Bend Police Department.

"We're having a lot of fun out here," said Keishawn Grant.

"My favorite part is when we play games," said Semaia Holloman.

They're taking a swing at tennis, which for some is a first.

"When you go to hit the ball back, you can't hit it too hard to go out of bounds," said Kenyon.

"It helps you with your tennis skills and keeps you active," said Ilana Douglas.

Boykins says one of the most important aspects of the program is for kids to learn to interact well and even cheer-on police officers, who can make a big difference down the road.

"We need to keep this type of program going to keep those relationships between kids and law enforcement," said Boykins.

Boykins said this 7 week summer program gives these kids a much needed outlet.

"This is something the west side kids and kids can come out and have a good time and play and feel safe," said Boykins.

And of course - everyone has fun while doing it.

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