MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Nearly a thousand students are taking a step in the right direction thanks to local police officers who are participating in a mentorship program.
Middle schoolers at Norland Middle School were given a warm welcome by police officers who will soon become their mentors.
“Some young males, they don’t get the opportunity because they’re losing their lives,” said Xavier Macklin, a Norland Middle School student, “and they’re not getting raised as they should be, so it feels good to be here.”
The middle school boys and police from multiple departments came together thanks to the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project that is aimed at improving relationships to help fight gun violence.
Miami Police Assistant Chief Dennis Jackson said it’s all about communication. “I think we’ve lost the old fashioned touch of just being able to talk to one another,” he said, “so I think we need to do more of these.”
About a thousand boys participated in the interactive workshops inside the North Campus at Miami Dade College.
Outside, they participated in a march against gun violence. Three hundred police officers and students from 34 schools walked alongside families who lost their children to gun violence. Community leaders also joined in with signs in-hand.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson founded the program in the hopes of bringing unity within the community. “They say they have made friends with police officers who actually walked to their communities, and they know their first names, and it makes a huge difference,” she said.
The program awards college scholarships to students and aims to teach these boys about healthy living, responsibility, respect and how to attain their future goals. “I feel like it’s going to be good time here to show love,” Macklin said.
Another student said the program has impacted him personally. “I want to be a police officer when I get older,” said Norland Middle School student Rasheen Rigby, “to keep the streets safe.”
Copyright 2016 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.