GREEN BAY - A Green Bay police officer known as "Skateboard Cop" is using his longboard to help at-risk kids achieve long-term success.
He's teaming up with a local middle school and Green Bay Action Sports for the pilot program aimed at combating delinquent behavior.
Skateboarding is a way many Washington Middle School students get to class and back home again.
"Skateboard Cop" Joel Zwicky is partnering with the school to get even more kids involved with the hobby and prevent bad behavior.
"I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to engage some of our students who might not be engaged socially, which in turn affects them academically," said Washington Middle School Principal Toni Lardinois.
It's called the Shredderz Program. It stems from the idea of proactive policing.
"What are some of the psychological, sociological, economic reasons that people are getting into trouble, getting into crime, making these choices? And how can we as the police department interject early on and fill some of those needs with something more positive," explained Zwicky.
School officials will select 10 students for the program, which begins at the end of the month.
"Kids who may just be on that line of not being engaged in school, kids who are just socially withdrawn and see if this is an area that interests them," said Lardinois.
While kids are learning how to skateboard at Green Bay Action Sports, Zwicky along with other instructors and mentors will also address issues like truancy and gang activity.
"A lot of times, kids are unhappy in school. They’re seeking thrills, they’re seeking a place to belong. And that’s kind of what skateboarding can create," Zwicky said.
Participants will not only learn basic skateboarding skills. The Shredderz program is designed to teach self-confidence, goal-setting, problem solving and conquering fear.
"We're going to let skateboarding teach them all these values that are going to serve them through the rest of their life," said Zwicky.
The eight- to ten-week pilot program is aimed at Washington, but Zwicky hopes to eventually include students from throughout the district.
"All we need is their commitment and their willingness to come in here and try something new," Zwicky said.
The Shredderz Program is funded by a grant from the Crime Prevention Foundation of Brown County.
Participants will be able to invite family and friends to the final session to show off what they've accomplished during the program.