Page 57 - FOP May 2019 Magazine
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  backgrounds to play together.
“We’re trying to slowly break down
the stigmas between this block and that block. Hopefully we can start making a difference for the younger generation,” Ramirez details. “Maybe the kids start off not knowing each other, but now they play the same sports and get to see that they’re not so different.”
As the athletes create connections on the field or the court, officers are also giv- en the opportunity to be a part of smiles, laughter and encouragement that con- trast some of the darkness that exists on the job.
“It gives officers an escape from the negativity of the job,” Harris explains. “It gives them a chance to go into a place where they are seeing the positives. It re- minds us of why we do what we do.”
This spring and summer, parks across the West Side of Chicago will be where the worlds of youth, law enforcement and community leaders collide to form the Westside Sports conference. Harris and officers throughout all four districts have become a team of their own. They’ve re- cruited coaches, solicited uniform do- nations, scheduled fields and registered more than 700 kids to jumpstart the first- of-its-kind police and youth conference in the city of Chicago. Now that the logis- tics are worked out, Harris is confident
The Chicago Westside Sports Instagram account shares a picture of newly-donated jerseys for the opening day of baseball season.
  that the many hands that have commit- ted to this initiative will make light work for the sports conference to continue and grow in the future, while strengthen- ing its mission along the way.
“My dream will be that our kids will wake up in the morning and on their way out, they’ll look at the refrigerator and
there’s a schedule of all the activities that they can participate in,” Harris muses. “There’s not much time to get involved in mischief because their days are packed full of experiences and growth and learn- ing that’s going to prepare them for the future. The potential is limitless.”
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