Building a positive relationship between police and young people in the community: That’s one of the many missions of Incarnation House in Dallas.
At Incarnation House, it’s about helping kids succeed and bridge the gaps no matter what challenges present in their daily lives.
“I came one day, and I fell in love with it,” said Shakira Anderson, a junior at North Dallas High School.
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Anderson says her second family at Incarnation House has helped her overcome some of her biggest life challenges. "This program, it really saved a lot of us," Anderson said.
And, it’s where she's learning critical life skills.
"I think it’s important to help build relationships between the police department and the youth because a lot of them have misconceptions of, 'hey, all y'all do is take us to jail. We can’t talk to you,'" said Dallas Police Sgt. Derrick Wright.
And students admit, at first it was intimidating. Kids were afraid to interact with police. So, as part of a new partnership with the Dallas Police Department, officers have started hanging out at Incarnation House on Thursdays to build relationships with the kids and help heal wounds and misconceptions.
“By us coming here, it allows them to see that, hey, we do interact, we are people, we let our guards down, we have fun. But when it’s time to be serious, we can take it to that level as well,” said Wright.
“Well, the first day they came, it was kinda like, 'ugh, why they here?' type situation,” said Anderson. “Like, did we do something?”
But it didn’t take long for the intimation to fade away and the conversations of understanding on both sides to begin.
“When they told us why they were here, they stayed here for a good 30 minutes. They stayed for the whole time, but within 30 minutes, we started interacting with them, and we ended up playing UNO, and I whopped somebody in UNO,” said Anderson.
Barriers between police and the community broken down one step at a time.
“Trying to let them know that there is a different side of us,” Wright said.
Incarnation House partners with more than 20 North Texas organizations to provide a hub of wrap-around services meant to have a positive impact on young people in our area.