Program links youth, police through gaming
By ANGELA HARNE
The Farmville Enterpris
Monday, November 19, 2018
FARMVILLE — Chief Donnie Greene is the heavyweight champion — of GAMEP.L.A.Y.’s Dance Off.
GAMEP.L.A.Y. cofounders Kenneth Dion Dail and Gera Miles presented Greene a 2K Games’ championship belt recently at the Farmville Police Department.
GAMEP.L.A.Y. launched in November 2016 in Pitt County. Aimed at youth ages 12-17, the grassroots initiative helps bridge the gap between young people and law enforcement.
Dail and Miles wanted to initially launch GAMEP.L.A.Y. to teach youth how to prepare for an interview. Dail, who manages a GameStop in Greenville, noticed potential employees were coming ill prepared to interview with him.
Then the police shootings and death of young men, like Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner and Michael Brown occurred.
Miles and Dail switched gears.
“These were pressing issues, and there was not great interaction between youth and law enforcement,” Dail said. “We wanted to help bring the community together.”
Law enforcement and youth are frequent customers at GameStop. Dail thought bringing them together through gaming would be ideal.
GAMEP.L.A.Y. stands for Police. Life. And. Youth.
The organization has hosted four gaming events since its inception.
“Farmville police has been there since the beginning,” Dail said.
“I’m a gamer from far back,” Greene said.
“Atari,” Greene’s officers joked.
“Yea. And online programs,” Greene said with a smile. “Gaming shows we all have stuff in common.”
Greene and Farmville officers have attended each event, which pairs youth with law enforcement playing video games. Then the children breakout into talk sessions, which are open conversations with law enforcement.
“When our kids know who is taking care of them and their names, it makes a difference,” Dail said, explaining he hopes GAMEP.L.A.Y. helps to build bonds between law enforcement and youth.
In March, the group hosted an event at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain-Farmville Unit. Greene took the Dance Off competition with ease.
“Chief Greene is a champion, but it is awesome what the chief and his department have done,” Dail said. “We are thankful for all you do.”
“It is a great program,” Greene said. “What you’re doing in the community is absolutely awesome. It is a simple idea, but we all play games and can connect.”.