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Youth Academy rappels into fun

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MPD YOUTH ACADEMY: Participant Kelsie Shoup rappels down the side of the Marion Municipal Building on Wednesday.
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BY Ethan Clewell - eclewell@chronicle-tribune.com

On Wednesday kids attending the Marion Police Department Youth Academy rappelled off the side of the Marion Municipal Building.

Participant Skyler Teegarden says rappelling was one of the things he was most excited for throughout the four-day program.

This was the beginning of a day full of activities for the kids. The day included a tour of the Grant County Juvenile Detention Center and the tasing of MPD Chief Angela Haley.

The Youth Academy is designed for children to be educated while having fun.

“It teaches them what we do,” MPD personnel administrative assistant Carol McLain said, “so that they understand when they watch TV, that isn’t always what you see.”

The academy serves a second purpose of building trust between children and Marion police.

“It’s good for the children that they can come in. They can meet the officer in a good environment instead of meeting them out on the road.” McLain said.

Participant Amaia Blade says her favorite part of the camp so far is interacting with the officers.

That interaction with the police and getting to work with one another are some of the best parts of Teegarden’s experience so far.

“I’ve really liked getting to know the police officers, what they do and how they help,” Teegarden said. “I’ve also learned cooperation skills with my teammates.”

This years’ camp attendance has been on par with previous years. This is typically due to an attendance cap of around 30. This year is at 27. 

McLain says that there have been some instances where they program does get repeats, but those are under special circumstances, or if the numbers if attendees are low. “We always want the seats open for children that have never gone through the program,” McLain said.

Another reason is they don’t want kids that have already gone through the program to ruin any of the surprises for any of the current attendees.

On the last day they will have a graduation which includes a certificate and the participants reading a thank you note to whoever got them into the program. McLain says they will read those thank you notes in front of a crowd. According to McLain, it helps the participants practice public speaking.

McLain believes in the program’s effectiveness of helping children learn in a fun environment, while also building relationships with officers in a safe environment.

“It’s a great program and I encourage any child to attend,” McLain said.