Swansea police and firefighters band together for youth academy - KMOV.com

Swansea police and firefighters band together for youth academy

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Police and firefighters in Swansea have banded together to help children in the area not only have fun, but learn valuable life lessons. Police and firefighters in Swansea have banded together to help children in the area not only have fun, but learn valuable life lessons.

By: Michael Ryan 

SWANSEA, IL (KMOV.com) – Police and firefighters in Swansea have banded together to help children in the area not only have fun, but learn valuable life lessons.

The Swansea Police and Fire Youth Academy is designed with children in mind. When the academy first opened it was designed for 25 children, but 43 applied. The academy accepted all of them.

“They've done the gamut of everything; from traffic stops to running the fire hose to climbing up the ladders to a jail tour," Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said.

The campers participate in a number of activities including a tour of the St. Clair County Jail. Chief Johnson believes this made the biggest impact on the kids. County officials let the children see it all, nothing was hidden including the intake area, the cells, even maximum security.

“It makes me nervous… like are they going to bust open that window and come out,” a camper said.

Several campers sat down with the inmates to answer questions about life behind bars. One inmate told campers that this is no place they want to be, because you lose contact with your family and friends.

“I think they found out relatively quick that TV and the real world go different ways. It's one thing to see it on TV, it's another to see it in person," Chief Johnson said.

Although Chief Johnson believes the lessons learned at the jail and other activities is important the interaction between firefighters and police officers is the most important part of the camp.

“What I thought was interesting, at the beginning of these 3 days, I would go up to some of these young children who weren't use to being around a police officer and I could tell they were a little skittish with everything going on in the world. Now I can't even walk through them without them hugging me," Chief Johnson said.

The firefighters and police officers who ran the academy volunteered on their own time.

To learn more about this program visit Swansea’s site.

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