The OK Program in Kansas City, Kansas, is in the national spotlight as cities dealing with protests over police shootings look to improve relationships between police and the community. OK stands for Our Kids.
Executive Director Darron Story explains that the program has been in Kansas since 2001. Kansas City, Missouri, added the OK Program last year.
The OK Program is focused on forming a positive relationship between African-American police and mentors with young African-American boys who typically do not have a positive African-American role model in their lives.
"We want to first show the young boys that we care," explained Story.
"We not only form a relationship with that young boy, we are also in communication with the family so that we have the family involved, the police officer, the school and the community," Story added.
Story said education is a main focus of the program. Students are given incentives for positive academic achievements.
"We also focus on critical thinking so kids will understand why they do what they do and consider the consequences," Story said.
Officer Jonathan Westbrook is the OK Program coordinator in Kansas City, Kansas. He explained that youth are asking questions about recent police shootings where officers and African-American men have been killed.
"I tell them that not all people of any race are bad and that we can't always judge what happened because we we're not there in that situation," said Westbrook.
The OK program also teaches youth what to do if they are stopped by police. More than 200 Kansas City, Kansas, students are in the program, and Westbrook said they need about 50 new African-American men who want to volunteer to help mentor young high school and middle school boys.
If you are interested in helping, the number to call is 913-653-1256. You can also visit the OK Program website for more information.
Cynthia Newsome can be reached at Cynthia.Newsome@kshb.com.