Christine Lee, NBC 5 Irving Reporter
Irving police officers are offering free summer hoops and kicks programs to elementary and middle school students.
For the fourth year, Irving police officers are offering free one-week sports camps for elementary and middle school students.
Students play sports and learn about teamwork skills during the Irving Police Athletic/Activities League's Summer Hoops basketball and Summer Kicks soccer programs. The programs have four one-week camps.
Irving PAL is a nonprofit organization that develops structured sports programs to help at-risk children.
Officer Charles Taylor said it takes some time for some of the students to get used to the officers' presence.
"They usually come by, they stand, and they just stare at us like, 'Ah, you don't look like a police officer. You're not in uniform,' so it's kind of odd for them at first," he said.
But once the game starts, they just concentrate on having fun, Taylor said.
Jaquavion Cash, 13, said he has enjoyed coming to the summer program every year since it began.
"It gives us something to do and good people to be around," he said.
Cynthia Miles, 14, said she has always been shy but being out with others has taught her to grow out of her shell.
"It's fun, and it's helping me better myself to do teamwork in school more, because I usually stay by myself because I'm quieter," she said.
Miles is now giving back by mentoring those who are younger than she is.
"All I do is get them to understand some of the stuff that they do and get them to talk more and to not be so shy as I was," she said.
For the first time, teenagers who outgrew the programs are coming back to volunteer.
"Some of our older kids, they like the program so much that they want to come back, but they're too old to be in the program, so we let them come back," Taylor said. "Some of them are doing community service hours to help out."
The programs, which include free lunch, are still accepting students for this summer.
For more information, visit Irving PAL's website or call the Community Services Division at 972-721-2615.