About 5000 Louisiana youth in grades 4-6 had high flying excitement with a knockout message at the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Camp Grant Walker during the 20104-H summer camp sessions. Every Tuesday during the nine week-long camps, two Plano, Texas, police officers presented a special program to campers from all 64 Louisiana parishes. The officers, Christopher Bianex and Lindy Privett, used a trampoline and martial arts to encourage youth to be buddies, not bullies, to understand that choices can bring consequences, to build awareness of stranger danger and to emphasize the cornerstones of character. Privett’s presentation included a row of weapons, including the bo and nunchaku.
"The program was underwritten by a grant by EnCana Oil and Gas (USA) Inc.," said Eric Eskew, executive director of the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.
Red River Parish Agent Cindy Smith contacted the team to present at the summer camps. "I had seen them perform at Red River Elementary school and was amazed," said Agent Cindy Smith.
The officers have more than three decades of police experience, personal knowledge and specialized training. As drug abuse resistance education instructors, they have taught hundreds of anti-drug and anti-violence lessons at schools, but this was the first time they presented a summer camp.
"The officers encouraged young people to stay safe, avoid the negative and destructive consequences of drug abuse and violence, and choose positive activities," Eskew said.
"The three messages are to do the right thing, choose friends carefully and be drug free," Bianez said. “We have to choose between right and wrong and our decisions will determine, to a large extent, our happiness and unhappiness,” he said. “Set your foot on the right path.”
“As police officers, we have had contact with people who make bad choices,” Privett said. He asked the youth to ask themselves, before acting inappropriatel,y if their behavior could hurt anyone, whether it is fair, if they would do it with their family watching and if they have ever been told it was wrong.
“Right is right, no matter how many people are against it,” Privett said. “Wrong is wrong, no matter how many people are for it.”
Bianez shared his personal rule about friends, saying they can influence how you think and act and determine the person you’ll become.
“True friends never desire, expect or encourage you to do something dangerous or get you in trouble. True friends will keep you out of harmful situations,” Bianez said, listing cheating, stealing, beating up someone and damaging property as examples of bad behavior.
Bianez said to have a great friend, you need to be a great friend." Befriend those who are shy or may not feel included", he said.
Privett told the youth to never let anyone pressure them into using drugs. “Never let anyone lead you to believe that drugs will make you happy.”
Before the presentation for Camp 3 that Red River Parish attended, some youth volunteered for an activity called “Dancing with a Police Officer” to music by popular artistssuch as Taylor Swift, Train and Vanilla Ice. Other music included “Let’s Get It Started” and “Ready to Rumble.” After the officers’ presentation, a few youth tried out martial arts moves to “Kung Fu Fighting.”
“The 4-H Camp program is one of many ways companies can help Louisiana 4-H,” Eskew said. “We are very appreciative of EnCana acknowledging that suppor,t for our Louisiana 4-H Camp ultimately benefits the future of our state.”
Summer 4-H Camp, an educational program of the LSU AgCenter, strives to develop a variety of life skills related to head, heart, hands and health at one-week summer camp sessions.
Individuals or businesses interested in making a difference for 4-H youth can contact the Louisiana 4-H Foundation at 225-578-1172 or on the Web at www.la4hfoundation.org.