Metro Children Take Part In Operation Truth Boot Camp
OKLAHOMA CITY - Young cadets learn life lessons from law enforcement. Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) Troopers volunteered their time, hoping to keep young people from straying into criminal activity.
Operation Truth Boot Camp is a two-week program offered at Greater Cleaves Memorial Church in Northeast Oklahoma City.
The sounds of marching echo down NE 48th St. , near Martin Luther King Ave., each morning as the cadets practice their drills.
"You have to put passion into it," said Jenesis Breath, a 9-year-old cadet.
She and other kids, ages 5-17, are participating in the program. The idea is to keep kids off the street in the summer and bring them into an environment where they can learn life skills that will prepare them to face any challenge in the community.
"The hard part is you have to learn to be respectful...and just love one another," said Breath.
The boot camp takes a military-style approach to get kids on the right track.
"My first year I came, I was not at all like I am now," DeVonne Alexander, 16, said he's straightened up in the last four years. "I've learned facing movements and life lessons like respect for myself, obedience, honesty, integrity."
To witness such progress is very rewarding for Commander Elizabeth Adams.
"Our goal is to encourage our children to be the best they can be," Adams said it's why she founded the program 18 years ago.
Adams doesn't do it alone. She has relied on OHP Troopers, each year, to teach drills, flag courtesies, and other important disciplines. This year, there's also added emphasis on building trust between law enforcement and young members of the community.
"With all the negative publicity law enforcement gotten [sic] over the last few months, they [kids] need to understand that all law enforcement is not bad," said Capt. Paul Timmons of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
In addition to the physical demands of the course, the boot camp also uses biblical messages to tackle topics such as gang violence, drug activities and peer pressure; things kids in the community are confronted with on a daily basis.
"We know the difference starts with them, and so if we can get them to believe that and to actually conceptualize it in their hearts...then we know we are doing our part," said Pastor James Dunbar of Greater Cleaves Memorial Church.
As the young cadets take a step in the right direction, Operation Truth Boot Camp seems to proving it's worth, as much as the latest group of cadets.
"We have seen such a difference in these men and women... a total turnaround," said Cpt. Timmons.