The first Friday of each month, students at Salisbury Elementary school are greeted by Salisbury Police and Fire officers’ big smiles and high fives. This program was started this past September after a suggestion from Tabitha Beebe, Secretary of the Salisbury PTA. Interactions with first responders are not always positive ones. This is an opportunity to change that narrative, as students are greeted with a smile, high five or joke. What a great opportunity for a natural positive interaction, says Jennifer Roketenetz, President of the Salisbury PTA. We hear from parents that on days with High Five greeting’s students seem to move a little faster in the morning and are eager to get to school. They look forward to it.
The Salisbury Police Chief, Tom Fowler, fully supports this project. He says it introduces an opportunity for a positive interaction between youth and adults. So many times youth only see police officers in a crisis situation, and this is an opportunity to build a positive interaction and trust between youth and police.
This program is helping to strengthen Assets among Salisbury youth as it builds positive adult role models, increases feelings of safety, and helps build a caring school climate and neighborhood, all of which are part of the 40 Developmental Assets. Having a feeling that the community values them is a positive influence for youth, and having police and fire officers visit the elementary school is helping to show youth support and creating positive relationships at an early age.