These Kiwanis clubs learned that first responders can make ideal project partners. Get inspired! 

By Julie Saetre

When your club is considering service project possibilities, don’t overlook your community’s first responders. They’re committed to helping families and children stay safe and well, and they encounter a diverse group of community residents. That often makes them ideal project partners. Get inspiration from these Kiwanis club projects. 

Connecting cops and kids
The Kiwanis Club of Bluffton, South Carolina, U.S., donated dozens of basketballs, footballs, dodgeballs and other pieces of sporting equipment to the Bluffton Police Department. Officers use the items when on routine patrols to interact with children and young people. The officers will chat with a child or teen and sometimes play a quick game of catch — and then offer the ball as a gift. They’ve also used the items as a distraction to divert a child’s attention from an accident or other troubling incident.  

“It’s a great way to build trust and rapport with children in the community,” says Bluffton Police Sergeant Bonifacio Perez. “It helps build fun, not fear.” 

In Florida, U.S., a local program called Dueling Dragons brings together officers from the Orlando Police Department and young community residents to form teams that compete in dragon boat competitions. The program reaches out to the area’s “invisible kids”: inner-city youth who strive academically but receive neither praise (which is often reserved for athletic prowess) nor intervention (which is directed toward troubled behavior). When members of the Orlando Kiwanis Club heard about Dueling Dragons, they donated a 10-person practice boat and volunteered to provide cookouts for team members and scholarships to students.  

Supporting safety and saving lives
The Kiwanis Club of Brantwood, Ontario, Canada, pioneered the Children’s Safety Village, a two-acre town simulation where kids learn about staying safe in even the most dangerous situations. The club provided CA$25,000 for start-up funds, and members have volunteered for thousands of service hours. The village includes classrooms, a fire-hazard apartment and a miniature town with roads and working traffic signals. Instructors from the Brantford Fire Department help kids identify fire hazards in the home and learn how to escape a burning building. Community constables demonstrate proper bicycle maintenance techniques and safety checks and explain the meaning of various road signs and signals. 

In Arkansas, U.S., the El Dorado Kiwanis Club partnered with the El Dorado Fire Department and ProMed Ambulance service to launch a local Stop the Bleed campaign. A national awareness effort, Stop the Bleed helps bystanders — also known as immediate responders — become trained, equipped and empowered to help in an emergency involving a bleeding person. In Eldorado, ProMed Ambulance and the El Dorado Fire Department conducted Stop the Bleed training sessions. The Kiwanis club also held training sessions and provided training kits with supplies for packing wounds and applying tourniquets.