West Oakland kids enjoy new summer camp

July 29, 2011 6:34:53 PM PDT
The Oakland A's joined forces with police and community organizations to change summertime for some West Oakland kids with a new summer camp.

Playing Wiffle ball on a warm summer day was unimaginable for a lot of West Oakland kids. Not too long ago their new playground was just a parking lot. The Oakland A's helped to make this dream possible. And newcomer, 2nd baseman Jemile Weeks threw the first pitch.

"Somebody like me is somebody they can look up to. They see guys like me in the streets all the time, where they're from, and they see there is a positive influence," said Weeks.

Some of the kids were starstruck.

"He's good, got a lot o potential in it," said camp kid Michael Owens.

It's part of the free summer camp called "Together We Can." It's put on by the Oakland schools' police department. There are days when up to 90 kids from the neighborhood show up.

Oakland Unified is the only school district in the Bay Area to have its own police force, separate from the city. It was the chief who decided to create a place where police officers and kids could bond.

"That was one of the goals is obviously to create a safe environment where kids could feel comfortable and safe, but it was really two-fold. How do we build a positive relationship between young people and police?" said Oakland school police Chief Peter Sarna.

Without this camp, there would be nowhere for the kids to play in a supervised and safe environment.

"I would be sad in my house," said camp kid Alizjah Pittman.

The A's team president Michael Crowley says Oakland is need of more centers like this one.

"There is also a need for people to invest, not only with money, but time," said Crowley.

The camp has been so successful, police say kids will be able to continue using the facilities in the afternoons after school.

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