EDMORE — This village’s chief of police doesn’t like labels and never gives up on anyone’s ability to learn from mistakes and move forward in a positive direction.
Luke Sawyer’s nonjudgmental way of thinking and desire to reward local kids for doing good things laid the groundwork for a new incentive program, Youth of Edmore Shine (YES). The program is backed by Burger King and McDonald’s in Edmore in the form of free food rewards.
Sawyer shoulders great concern for the wellbeing of neighborhood youths. A new neighborhood watch program, Edmore Eyes and Ears (E3), is coming to Edmore soon and Sawyer likes the idea of everyone working together for the common good of the community.
In a perfect world, youths have a strong support system to foster confidence through positive reinforcement. But, unfortunately, some youngsters lose their sense of direction, turn to destructive behavior and are branded as troublemakers.
“It’s not so much that they’re bad kids, but kids who make bad choices,” Sawyer said. “There’s a big difference. We’ve all made poor choices at one time or another.”
Sawyer reminds people to see the good in others, instead of the bad. Youths who come from troubled backgrounds shouldn’t have to grow up with people assuming they are tainted and will become hopeless derelicts in society. The police chief doesn’t forgo consequences when warranted, but he doesn’t like stereotypes and sees potential in every youngster.
Sawyer mentioned a recent situation in which youths at Glenn Curtis Memorial Park helped an elderly woman whose vehicle got stuck in a wet area of newly-planted grass by the new pavilion.
“Our teens at the park saw her vehicle was stuck, stopped skateboarding, came over to her car and pushed her out,” Sawyer posted on his popular “Village of Edmore Police Department” Facebook page, which has more than 500 “likes.” “I have told them many times that their actions will speak volumes to the community about who they are … and this action speaks volumes!”
Sawyer will use a hands-on approach with the YES program to promote a sense of pride in the community and will be on the lookout for anyone younger than age 18 who is making a positive contribution. This includes youths doing voluntary duties, such as picking up trash that someone else left, opening a door for a woman, saying please and thank you or wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle — not for money, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
“YES hopes to motivate some and recognize others for the good choices they make,” Sawyer explained. “I preface this by saying that I have very high expectations for our young people, and I believe that they like high expectations.”
Volunteers at the Endeavor Center for Youth and Community Development in Edmore focus on recognizing and instilling confidence in youths who attend programs and activities there.
“I love these kids,” said volunteer Taylor Sawyer of Edmore. “It means a lot to me to give them a positive influence in their lives. They deserve to be loved and not peg-holed into something bad that some people expect them to become. Each and every one of them has good in them. I see it.”
Sawyer encourages other individuals and businesses in the community to join the effort to encourage youths to be positive contributors to society, remembering their own childhood faux pas.
“We were all kids once and probably did not always make the best decisions, even though that often slips our minds,” he said. “When you see a young person making a positive decision, give them a high-five or a pat on the back. Don’t be afraid to praise them … they won’t bite.
“We’re a community,” he said. “So, if we can look out for whoever has a need, that’s great.”