Put down the cellphones and video games, kids. The city of Statesboro has a better idea for summer fun.
Children of all ages are invited to join others for a day filled with free food and fun during the first-ever Statesboro Youth Day event. City officials, firefighters and police officers will be on hand to participate in the fun along with the kids.
Sponsored by the Statesboro Police Department and Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar, the event will be held Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Luetta Moore Park on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
There will be a three-on-three basketball tournament, corn hole games, kickball, bounce houses, hot dogs and more, according to information distributed during this week's Statesboro City Council meeting, where McCollar issued a proclamation declaring the day Statesboro Youth Day.
The proclamation read, in part, "…there is clear and convincing evidence that kids are more healthy when they engage in physical activities; …playing outside promotes social skills and reduces health risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol; …modern activities geared toward youth, like computer games and texting, tend to promote a sedentary, indoor lifestyle; …and the City government wants to encourage kids to get out and play."
McCollar was not immediately available for comment Thursday, but Statesboro Chief of Police Mike Broadhead seemed excited as he answered questions about the event that will hopefully become an annual gathering.
The day of fun aimed at young citizens is a prime chance for police to get to know the neighborhood children and be a positive influence on their lives.
"Statesboro Youth Day is an opportunity for the Police Department and the mayor's office to reach out to our local youth to show them how much we care about the future of our community," he said. "Relationships are not built overnight; they develop through mutual understanding and a long-term commitment to working alongside each other. We felt like having a day for kids to come out and play at a local park and enjoy some time with police officers and firefighters was a great way to work on our relationships."
In addition to getting kids on the move and away from spending daytime hours watching TV and playing video games, the event will show area youth that law enforcement officers are not the enemy, but a friendly resource.
"We want kids to see the police as their neighbors and partners, not as an occupying force," Broadhead said. "The best way to do that is to get individual kids to interact with individual officers so they can see and know each other as individual human beings."
There is no cost for children to attend the Statesboro Youth Day celebration.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.