Kids and cops meet for a friendly game of baseball - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Kids and cops meet for a friendly game of baseball

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On Monday afternoons, about 50 students from Greenview Elementary School have a unique opportunity. They get to hang out with police officers and deputies to play baseball.

It's part of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and its "Badges for Baseball" program. For 12 weeks, the children learn about life and paving a positive path.

"It's very similar to baseball, but everyone gets to participate so it's not like you have nine players on the field and for or five players sitting on the bench, but everybody gets to participate, and they get to compete against one another," said Richland County Deputy Joe White.

It's called Quick Ball. With softer balls and bats, Greenview's 4th and 5th graders have some fun competition.

"They're real fun, and you get to enjoy them," said 5th grader Aisha Mack. "They have 4th grade against 5th grade."

On Monday afternoons, Mack gets help with homework, learns life lessons, and then hits the gym with her classmates.    

"I make good grades and make sure that I can do something that's not negative, and that's positive," said Mack.

Columbia Police officers and Richland County Sheriff's deputies team up with the kids to not only teach them the sport.

"It's also an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community because so many of our kids nowadays think that law enforcement are the bad people," said White. "So many of them have been ostracized by saying, 'See that police officer? I'm going to have him take you to jail.' Well we're trying to get rid of that."

The kids are taught character-building life skills like teamwork, respect, and leadership.

"Leadership is when you do the right thing and others look up to you," said Mack

Attorney General Alan Wilson helped get Badges for Baseball off the ground in Columbia.

"We can prosecute, investigate, lock these kids up, spend millions of dollars on incarceration, but by investing a little bit of time with the right-placed people, with the kids that are most deserving and need this the most, this can avoid so many problems in the future for these kids and for the state and the community," said Wilson.

Bethlehem Baptist Church is also a part of this program. It provides snacks and transportation from Greenview Elementary to Meadowlake Park.

"We want them to know we're human, just like you," said White. "Just because we wear a uniform doesn't mean we don't care."

For more information about Badges for Baseball, contact Josh Lorick at 803-734-4746.

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