Three criminal justice seniors at Mercyhurst University provided the Erie, Pennsylvania, community with a fun evening of basketball action and positive influence at the Booker T. Washington Center on Wednesday.
The game featured a team of Erie police officers going against a team made up of the community’s young athletes who frequent the center.
The event was created by Trista Hellyer of Waterford, along with Cleveland residents Alicia Harrison and Dominic Paolucci. The students created the game as part of their senior seminar project in a course instructed by Maria Garase. The assignment was to organize a service learning project within their community.
“We wanted to do something to build a good relationship between inner-city youth and the police,” Hellyer said. “We thought the game would help build trust between the two groups.”
Harrison enlisted youth coach Bob Nance to attend the event and and speak to the players before the game.
“There’s been so much negative news in the media and on the Internet about the relationship between police and the communities they serve that we wanted to do something positive,” Harrison said.
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