BPD Officers Team Up with Club Kids in Iron Chef Competition
"Mmm, what is that delicious smell?" was the question of the day as Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore (BGCMB) partnered with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) on Friday, August 6, to host our first-ever Iron Chef competition at our Webster Kendrick Club.
For this event, BGCMB Club members and BPD officers teamed up in groups of five to cook for a panel of judges. The rules were simple. Each team had 21 minutes to complete and label their dish. For every mystery ingredient used, the team earned one additional point. But, for every incident of disorderly conduct, the team lost points. And finally, the most important rule: have fun and be safe!
Having fun proved to be the easiest rule to follow. There's nothing like friendly competition to pique our kids' interests. From the moment the timer started, our Club members had their game faces on. Kids zipped around the Club trying to find the necessary ingredients to make their dish of choice as they were cheered on by the crowd. Club members and officers were communicating, were some of the highs of the entire event.
"The event was great. I think friendly competitions are a great way for kids to learn how to interact with one another and build leadership skills," said BGCMB Board Member Marlon Amprey who served as a judge for the event. "I also think events like these introduce kids to new things. Who knows, some of these kids could become an award-winning chef that has a five-star restaurant in Baltimore. You never know what can spark a kid's dreams."
The Iron Chef competition was the latest activity in BGCMB’s ongoing efforts to rebuild trust among communities, youth and law enforcement. In addition to making space for fun, informal interactions like Iron Chef, we also direct our Photovoice program to facilitate structured conversations between youth and law enforcement.
"I'm all about prevention over intervention. Building a relationship and having community programs and events like this can be extremely beneficial. This event created a connection that probably wouldn't have been possible. Our kids were able to mesh and co-mingle with an audience that they previously were afraid of or had a negative perspective on," said Webster Kendrick Club manager Safire Windley. "It starts the dialogue of 'hey you're human, I'm human too.’ I think the officers are benefiting from it as well. It helps them stay sensitive and realize that we as a community need to help and mentor our young people."
Sgt. Lakisha Feaster who teamed up with Windley to plan the event reflected, "I think everything came together exactly how it was supposed to. Going into it, the children and the officers didn't know each other, but by the end, they had nicknames for each other and were high fiving. It was great to see them open up to us.”
Club member Tamera S. put it another way:
"I'm happy I signed up for Iron Chef because it was really fun. I enjoyed hanging out and cooking with the police officers. After being around the officers, I felt good about them being there. They were cool.”