While the pandemic put on hold many of the important athletic activities youth need to stay fit, learn socialization skills and have fun, some local organizations joined forces to ensure kids still have access to exciting and energizing sporting
While the pandemic put on hold many of the important athletic activities youth need to stay fit, learn socialization skills and have fun, some local organizations joined forces to ensure kids still have access to exciting and energizing sporting competition.
Warwick Police Athletic League (PAL), Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick (BGCW) and Cox Communications recently partnered to host the eSports event, Roblox at the Club's Oakland Beach facility. During the massive multiplayer online game where kids can create and interact in immersive 3D worlds, police officers faced off against PAL mentees in accordance with social distancing protocols. Youngsters had the option of participating in Club's gym or remotely from the comfort of their own home.
By incorporating social distancing, mask wearing, and good hygiene into its daily routines, BGCW is operating safely and providing kids access to much-needed technology platforms and peer socialization. The eSports event represented a culmination of a first-ever mentoring program implemented by PAL in lieu of traditional contact sports, in which Warwick police officers served in a mentor / mentee capacity with students from Warwick Veterans Memorial Middle School and West Bay Community Action Center.
Typically, PAL reaches more than 750 students through a range of sports programs like basketball, football, cheerleading, and bowling, but that number dropped significantly due to COVID-19. The organization pivoted away from contact sports to a mentoring program with the help of a $19,000 Mentoring Program Grant to align local youth with police officers serving as mentors. Weekly social and educational development activities help students develop leadership skills framed around making a positive impact on their communities, with local Boys and Girls Club facilities a natural meeting place for such endeavors.
Recognizing that the City of Warwick and its Boys and Girls Club facilities have long been leaders in adopting technology solutions that foster interconnectedness, Cox Communications collaborated with Club leaders and Officer Russell Brown, executive director of Warwick PAL, to create the school vacation week event that allows students and police officers to enjoy a final face-off before the mentoring program wraps up.
The Cox-powered Oakland Beach facility was a natural fit for an eSports event that allowed PAL mentees to participate in-person in accordance with social distancing protocols in the club's gymnasium, or remotely from the comfort of their own home. Cox previously presented the BGCW with a $25,000 Innovation Lab from the James M. Cox Foundation at its Norwood branch on Frederick St.
"As police officers, we feel an intrinsic duty to serve our community not only through advocating for public safety, but also to inspire our local youth to grow into tomorrow's leaders," said Officer Russell Brown. "While we are eager to return to the field, court, and rink for in-person competition, we are extremely proud of the participants in our first-ever peer mentoring program, and grateful for the support from Cox Communications and the Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs to give the kids a chance to show our officers a thing or two in the digital arena."
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