"Bigs in Blue" Comes to Hershey
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region (BBBSCR) has launched a new “Bigs in Blue” partnership with the Derry Township Police Department and Derry Township School District. Police officers participating in the “Bigs in Blue” program spend quality time as mentors to students at Hershey Intermediate Elementary School.
The program is a national initiative which was launched locally in 2016. Today’s kick-off marks the 10th “Bigs in Blue” partnership in BBBSCR’s service area. The kick-off was held at Hershey Intermediate Elementary School and dignitaries from all partners spoke on the benefits of this program.
“Our local program has grown substantially in just two short years, not only because it provides one-to-one mentoring for kids who need them but also because it supports our local police departments,” remarks BBBSCR President & CEO Maddie Young.
“The officers participating in Bigs in Blue support these students as they face various transitions and become not just a friend but a vital role model,” says Young. “Recently, two students in the Bigs in Blue program were asked what career they wanted to pursue and both responded to say they wanted to be police officers to help protect people. This program improves perceptions of police officers in our schools and communities.”
For the Derry Township Chief of Police Garth Warner, the department’s participation “is a natural extension of what our Officers do, day-in and day-out for their community. It allows our Officers to act as mentors to those Littles who are in need, hopefully changing their outlook on their world, as well as their perception of what police officers stand for, work for, and represent. It also allows our Officers to get to know the youth in our community on a different level and, hopefully, breaking down barriers between us."
Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are evidence-based; students in the programs develop strong relationships with adults, reduce risky behavior and maintain or develop positive attitudes towards education including improved academics and pursuit of college education.
“This partnership embodies the district’s mission of being a community cultivating an extraordinary learning environment,” states Derry Township School District Superintendent Joseph McFarland. “Learning can occur in many places and teaching is not limited to the classroom. I’m fond of saying ‘It all begins with relationships.’ Here, we all benefit from the relationships we are building here – both those between the community partners who have joined together to make this possible and those who will serve as mentors or participants in the Bigs in Blue program.”
Derry Township’s “Bigs in Blue” program is made possible by funding from The Hershey Company and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. The program is also generously supported by the Walmart Foundation.