By VAN HOLLAND
To protect and serve the community is what law enforcement is about. On Saturday, the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department and Edgecombe County Public Schools teamed together to serve the community when they hosted the annual D.A.R.E. Olympics at Tarboro High School.
The event was another avenue for law enforcement and schools to give kids a chance to occupy their time during the day and offer them a chance to compete with their school peers in 10 different athletic challenges against students from other schools.
"It means a lot to be a part of this event for the community," Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight said. "It gives the kids an event to occupy their time and it is a way for them to stay active."
Five elementary schools participated in the event, Pattillo, Carver, Coker-Wimberly, Bulluck and Princeville. The students participated in 10 events to see who could accumulate the most points and win the first place trophy. Pattillo was the successful school who won the overall championship with 61 points. Coker-Wimberly was second with 56 points and Bulluck finished third with 33 points. Carver was fourth with 32 points and Princeville was fifth with 16 points.
The event wasn't just about competing against other schools, it was a networking event for the sheriff's office and school system to show kids that students from different communities and schools could work together.
Knight said it meant a lot to him for his department to be able to team up with the schools and host a special event. He said it was their motto "To protect and serve" and what better way to serve the community then to host an event for the kids. He said the kids were the communities future and there is nothing more important then the kids of the future.
"This is just another community event that can help keep kids stay away from drugs," Knight said. "Today wasn't about winning. It was the fact that the kids were out here enjoying their day."
Knight said DARE officer Cpl. Elwood Whitaker and the school system want to continue to educate the kids and using the event as a network and teaching about peer pressure is just another way to make that successful.
"We are educating them, not only about drugs, but also about bullying other kids," Knight said. "We want them to learn to get along with each other and that was a good way to bring all the schools together, because it is dealing with networking."
Knight said it was a great avenue to do this, because it teaches the kids about not taking peer pressure and letting it affect them. It is about strength and numbers.
Knight started the DARE program in 1989. The program has since taken off and has become an outlet for the sheriff's office to teach the students about the cause and effects of drugs and what it can do to an individuals life.
"This is a great foundation for our young kids to know what drugs are about," Knight said. "We want them to know that they can stay active and do events in the community like this one."
The Pitt County Sheriff's Office DARE officer was on hand watching the event to see how it was coordinated, because Knight said he is trying to bring Pitt and Nash counties aboard in the future to participate in the event to make it an even bigger affair so the three counties could compete against each other.
The Tarboro Lady Vikings softball team and their coaching staff were the coordinators of the 10 events. They cheered on the schools as coach Riley Hurdle judge each individual event. This was the second year that the Vikings had helped with the event and they do it as a community service project.
The sheriff's department deputies cooked hot dogs for the students and their families to show their appreciation after the event.
Knight sees the event growing each year and said that is something positive.