NEWTON GROVE — With smiles and laughter, a group of children enjoyed watching a hairy police assistant chase a ball inside the gym of Hobbton Middle School.
Junior, the K-9 from the Clinton Police Department, was one of several visitors who participated in the UPLIFT Summer Academy, a three-week educational program. The police dog was joined by its handler, Detective Matt Bland and Sgt. Eddie Carter and K-9, Sarge.
Uplift, a 21st Century Afterschool Program, is funded through federal dollars and provides academic activities during the school year, weekends and during the summer. It stands for “Using positive lessons to Improve our Future Tomorrows” and is operated through Project Outreach, which was formed in the late 1990s as nonprofit organization. The mission is to provide programs to increase educational growth, enhance social and life skills training and training on resolving conflicts using nonviolent methods.
“It’s a fun program,” said Brandy George, a 10-year-old attending Hobbton Elementary School. “I enjoy meeting new friends and other people. It’s very educational and fun at the same time.”
During the camp, Brandy enjoyed riding horses, Wonderworks in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and watching the K-9s in action on Friday.
Carter and Bland discussed the variety of ways the animals can help with situations such as finding missing people and locating illegal drugs. A lot of the children enjoyed asking questions.
“I think it shows that we’re approachable and we’re good guys,” Carter said about their visit Friday. “It’s not what they see all the time on TV. We’re actually good people and they can approach us.”
Before the K-9 demonstration, the students watched a presentation from Elaine Hunt, city clerk of Clinton. Through Hunt’s stories about Clinton’s department, the students learned about teamwork, regardless of different opinions.
“We’ve got to stay connected,” Hunt said. “We may not agree on everything, but we learn how to disagree and keep it moving.”
Glenn Faison, executive director of Project Outreach, mentioned how the students received positive lessons and have engaged in activities related to reading, language arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), music and art. He said the students also had fun taking field trips and learning about Tae Kwon Do from a visitor.
“We try to make educational, but fun during the summer,” Faison said. “We had a good group with a lot of diversity. Everybody is like family. It’s been a good program.”
Faison said he was excited and thankful for Sampson County Schools and the community as a whole for helping to make it a success.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.