The Leesburg Police Department partnered with the Young Kings Movement for its senior police camp this week, preparing young men in the county for all aspects of life after high school.
Doode Summers, a high school teacher and mother of two boys, started the Young Kings Movement in November to empower youth to better themselves, connect with each other, and serve the community. Starting such an organization has long been a dream of hers.
“A couple of them have been in a little bit of trouble but they are all still worthy. Everyone makes a mistake, and you can turn it around,” Summers said.
At this week’s camp, the 23 attendees got to know members of the police department while playing kickball, basketball, and learning practical life skills. Bridging divides between police and community members has made a big impact, the police officers said.
“The last couple of years, the negative things with the police, letting them get to know us on a personal level, letting them know that we are fathers, brothers, regular people in the community. We’re not out to just write tickets,” Master Police Officer Russ Bolden said.
The boys practiced getting pulled over by police, so they’d know how to interact with law enforcement in the future. The exercise revealed a great deal of anxiety among the boys in dealing with police.
“The officers would ask why their hands were up, and they would say I don’t want you to kill me,” Summers said.
“They see a lot of negativity in the world. When they get to hang out with us, relax, joke, they get to see us in a different way, that we actually have a good side to us,” Officer Gregory Graves said.
The camp also featured presentations by people across various professions, to expose campers to potential careers after high school.
To learn more about The Young Kings Movement, go to theyoungkingsmovement.org.