The Lima Police Department has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters to bring a recreational and life skills building program to South Science Technology Magnet School.
Police officers bring the national program Badges for Baseball to South fifth and sixth-graders once a week. It is the first year the police department has done the program, which is part of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
“There is a different lesson each week teaching things like respect, sportsmanship and leadership,” said Randy Kohli, one of the officers working with the students.
Started by the late Cal Ripken Sr., a former Major League Baseball player and coach, the foundation helps to build character and teach critical life lessons to youth. The foundation continues under his family, including Hall of Fame player Cal Ripken Jr.
Badges for Baseball is the foundation’s signature program. The program was created in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice as a juvenile crime prevention initiative. It’s a simple concept: pair police officers and kids together to play and learn. It works to enhance the relationship between law enforcement and youth using baseball as the hook.
Students participate in eight-week sessions. One session started in the fall with another going now. Each week students spend the first part of the session playing “Quick Baseball.” The game puts students on teams, with each team getting 90 seconds to hit pitches. Hitters and outfielders both have opportunities to earn points.
The second part of each session has officers leading discussions and students working in a book to learn lessons about teamwork, communication, respect, leadership and making healthy choices. There is also a strong anti-bully message.
“The Badges for Baseball program fosters an important positive relationship between our middle school students and the Lima Police Department,” Principal Tricia Winkler said.
A Big Brothers/Big Sisters grant pays for the program.