Oklahoma police hosted its annual “Man Up Retreat” to teach high school teens how to become more responsible adults.
The retreat is organized by FACT (Family Awareness and Community Teamwork), a gang prevention program within the Oklahoma City Police Department that works with youth aged 10-17. Officers in the unit mentor the youth, try to instill life skills and build character so that teens avoid getting involved in gangs or juvenile delinquency.
In an Oklahoma NBC 4 News report, the weekend retreat was described as a way to build trust with the community.
FACT Director Lt. Wayland Cubit said, “We try to tell them that police work is what we do, it’s not who we are.” Cubit described FACT as “a team of officers, a whole unit, dedicated to mentoring inner city youth.”
The main goal of the retreat is to turn high-schoolers into responsible and good men.
“We want to engage youth where they are. We want to build a relationship with them, and then do what we can to create good character in those young men,” said Lt. Cubit.
Around 25 high-schoolers spent the weekend with police officers and community leaders where they learned sage advice and a variety of skills.
High schoolers felt that the retreat helped bridge the gap between them and police officers.
High schooler Marrin Johnson said, “Most of us wouldn’t trust police if this wasn’t happening.”
The teens were given a chance to spend time with good role-models. Michael Reyes said it helped “To teach you how to be a man, and how asking for certain things, you don’t have to be scared for.”
Another student, Zinari Waldrup, said “It taught me how to be a man, and take care of certain responsibilities, and be accountable for my mistakes and my actions.”
Cubit said they also host a retreat for women. The retreats usually occur during the Spring Break.
“More often, we get phone calls from their parents saying ‘what did you do to my young man, he’s making up his bed, he’s doing his homework,’ and all those types of things,” said Lt. Cubit.