The NYPD honored the youth of New York City who have made a positive impact in their communities at police headquarters on Wednesday.
The event was held to celebrate those youngsters who are setting a good example in their neighborhoods and who are likely to have a successful future. It also aimed to promote positive behavior and mature thinking.
The ceremony took place just weeks after teenagers led a riot in Union Square during a Twitch streamer’s proposed gaming giveaway that ended in some 65 people cuffed for clashes with one another and police. Authorities say they are attempting to prevent another large-scale, chaotic incident by teaching young people to think for themselves and not follow the crowd.
“The goal is to try to get young people, to engage them very early so they don’t go down that negative track,” NYPD Executive Director of Community Engagement Alden Foster said. “You cannot quantify how we change people’s lives.”
This youth engagement culminated Wednesday when youngsters, primarily from high crime areas of the five boroughs, were celebrated for their meaningful impact. According to top police brass in the department’s youth division, cops are striving to motivate teens by not only recognizing them for their work through the large-scale ceremony, but to also encourage them to push themselves even further and accomplish even greater things.
“There is nothing more important than embarrassing a child for something great. Because after the embarrassment, they get to go back and feel lifted, and feel appreciated and feel motivated. This is a lift; this is a pat on the back. This is a push like, ‘Okay, if I can be rewarded for doing this. What else can I get awarded for?’” Deputy Inspector Besemah Rogers said.
Deputy Inspector Rogers also used the Union Square riot to illustrate the importance of helping guide children to make the right choice when it comes to dangerous and potentially deadly situations. He noted that many of the teens being honored either come from single parent households or even shelters leaving them with few role models.
The youth in attendance were presented with certificates and plaques in front of friends, family, and peers before being treated to free food and music. Top performers were also gifted with tablets. Deputy Commissioner of Community Affairs Mark Stewart told amNewYork Metro that seeing the teens rise up from low-income and at-risk communities reminded him of himself and his past, and in turn, gives him hope for the future.
“I’m a kid from the projects in Brooklyn. Now I’m the Deputy Commissioner of the largest police department in the world and I want them to see my face and know that they could do the same thing,” Stewart said.