NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- There's no question that tensions on America's city streets are high. In any given day's headlines, the conflict between inner-city youth and police officers serving poor communities is clear. In New York City, there is an award-winning program taking on the challenge of building a better relationship between cops and kids – to create new conversations and ways of relating to each other in order to save lives on both sides.
On January 13, Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids, a program of the All Stars Project, Inc. and winner of the 2016 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Cisco Community Policing Award, took to the stage at Harlem's historic Apollo Theater for a demonstration workshop starring inner-city youth and members of the NYPD, directed by Dr. Lenora Fulani, co-founder of the All Stars Project and Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids director. Life experiences and stories were shared to create honest and meaningful dialogue and uncover a common humanity between two groups who thought they couldn't be more different.
Founded in 2006 and run in a formal partnership with the NYPD as part of the training of NYC police officers since 2011, Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids uses performance, theatre games, improvisation and candid conversation to help teenagers and police officers in New York City's low-income neighborhoods develop a mutual respect for each other and improve their relationship.
"I have long said that bringing the police and the communities we serve together requires that we see each other for who we are. Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids helps make this happen. When police officers and inner-city youth perform together, each sees the other through new eyes. Barriers fall and trust rises. The NYPD is striving to make this happen through a range of new initiatives, but our collaboration with the All Stars Project remains one of the best partnerships we have for helping cops and kids realize that they have more in common than they think," said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.
Over 3,000 NYPD officers and young people have participated in performance workshops in communities across New York City since the program was founded; the January 13 Demonstration Workshop marked the eighth time the post-graduation training for probationary police officers was presented in this form. The event was performed for an audience of 665 recent NYPD academy graduates, and 485 members of the community.
"Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids workshops give teens and cops the chance to step outside their usual roles and responses and discover new ways of relating," said Dr. Fulani. "We commend the NYPD for their willingness to work together with us to bridge the divisions in our communities - divisions that weaken both our ability to fight crime and our ability to provide a decent and quality life to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin or which neighborhood they live in."
About All Stars Project, Inc.
The All Stars Project is a privately funded national nonprofit organization founded in 1981 whose mission is to transform the lives of youth and poor communities using the developmental power of performance, in partnership with caring adults. ASP is supported by some of America's leading companies including DIRECTV, EY, MetLife, Viacom and PWC. Led by President and CEO Gabrielle Kurlander, the ASP involves over 10,000 young people every year in its afterschool programs in six cities across the country. Learn more at www.allstars.org, on Facebook and on Twitter @AllStarsProject.
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SOURCE The All Stars Project