As the school year winds down, many parents face the challenge of figuring out where their children will spend their summer.
While summer camps can be expensive, young people in the Westchester Square/Throggs Neck area have another option in the NYPD Summer Youth Police Academy, which is being held for the first time at the Lehman High School campus.
Youth Services Coordinator for the Bronx Sgt. Theresa Wilson gave a presentation on the program at the 45th Precinct Community Council meeting at Co-op City on Thursday, May 4. Students quickly embrace the structured environment, she said.
“The first week the kids cry that they don’t want to be there, but by the second week we can’t kick them out,” Wilson said.
The program runs from July 5 through August 11, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.,and is open to city school students ages 10 to 16 years old.
The program runs in all five boroughs, and services 450 youth across the Bronx at three locations: the Mott Haven Educational Campus on Concourse Village West, Bronx Community College and Lehman High School.
The students from each borough compete in essay, drill and talent competitions, with the winner performing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“For six weeks, they are our kids,” Wilson said. “We have roll call just like the military. They have to run every day. If they can’t run they have to walk.”
Guest speakers including professional athletes and local TV personalities, and every Wednesday students are taken on a trip to places like New Roc City in New Rochelle for a movie or bowling or Rye Playland.
Students learn about the law, behavioral science, drug prevention, gang resistance, and other life skills. Lunch is provided daily.
Wilson said some students do get turned away each year, so she urged those on the fence to apply soon.
She also stressed that parents also have to be on board with the effort by getting students there on time each morning and letting the staff have total control of the students until the program ends each day.
The 45th Precinct Community Council president Robert Beider said the program is aimed not just at keeping kids busy, but helping them understand the role police play in their neighborhood.
“This improves police-community relations for years to come,” Beider said. “The more young people that get involved with the police and learn they are not the enemy, the better.”
Beider said holding the academy at the East Tremont school campus would not lead to excessive traffic congestion in the area.
“Most of the kids are going to get there by bus anyway, and when you compare it to the school year, it’s nominal,” he said. “It’s nowhere near the amount of kids that are there during the school year.”
Applications for the program are available on the city website and must be submitted by Friday, May 19.