KU Student-Athletes Help with Hawks, Cops and Kids

Sept. 29, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – More than 30 Kansas student-athletes teamed up with the Lawrence Police Department, KU Police Department, Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County to put on the annual Hawks, Cops and Kids event at Robinson Gymnasium Saturday morning.

Members of Kansas’ baseball, football, rowing, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball teams were scheduled to help lead the athletic portion of the days’ activities, which included five stations that nearly 60 kids rotated through between 9:30 a.m. and noon. Kansas student-athletes led two rotations in the gym.

“We’ve been playing some games like kickball and some basketball, just having fun and explaining what sports are and how to have fun with exercising,” said Kansas tennis player Belen Luduena, a first-time kickball player who showed off her arm by throwing out KU punter/kicker Ron Doherty at second base during an early game. “I think it’s good for them and it’s really fun for us too.”

In addition to the athletic component, the event included a pair of classroom sessions in which kids learned about bullying and being safe around strangers. Lawrence Police Department School Resource Officer Jay Bialek led the bullying discussion and showed participants two video clips teaching kids to step up, speak up, and report it if they’re being bullied. Bialek then reviewed the videos with children and walked them through a couple scenarios before answering questions.

LPD Community Services Sargent Zeke Cunningham led the session called “Stranger Danger” and worked through a power point and helped participants understand ways to be safe in public around unfamiliar individuals. Tips included making sure someone knows where you’re going to be, not walking alone, not taking short cuts through dark areas, understanding that bad people don’t always look mean or scary, and not getting too close to strangers.

As much fun as playing with the student-athletes was, the highlight of the morning for most kids was playing in two functioning patrol cars in the Robinson parking lot. Under the supervision of several patrol officers, kids were allowed to turn on the siren and speak through the car’s loudspeaker.

Kansas student-athletes, police department members and Big Brothers Big Sisters staff closed the event by having a pizza lunch with the kids.

“We had a blast,” said Turner Baty from KU football. “It’s great to give back to the community. Some of these kids are really good athletes so it’s a lot of fun to get out here and play sports with them.”

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