A Los Angeles Police Department officer has made it his mission to mentor young children and keep them away from drugs, gangs, crime and bullying.
After spending two decades patrolling the streets, Officer Michael Scott now visits schools, connecting with students who make pledges and promises to stay true to themselves.
The officer is busy, usually visiting two schools per month. Promoted solely by word of mouth, Scott has visited 45 schools in the past three and a half years and is already booked through January.
"We are planting seeds here today, in a fun, exciting way, and hopefully that will stick with them for the rest of their lives," Scott said as he visited Monlux Elementary School in North Hollywood.
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He came to connect with the kids and start the conversation about challenges they may face, starting with a pledge: "I pledge to say no to drugs, gangs, crime and bullying."
In fact, all the kids must write essays and take pledges before Scott will put on the program.
After 21 years patrolling the streets of LA, Scott said, instead of being disheartened by a lot of what he's seen, he decided to make a difference and pay it forward.
"I've seen a lot of bad things," Scott said. "So, I started this program based on what I've seen in the streets, and our goal to change our youth."
The officer volunteers his time to the "Just Say No Campaign," along with fellow officers from the nonprofit LAPD Baseball Team.
After the kids made their promises to "just say no" at the elementary school in North Hollywood, things got competitive. They hula hooped their hearts out, seeing who could keep it on their hips the longest and several kids winning prizes.
"See what happens when you compete and you win?" Scott encouraged the kids. "Let's hear it for our young champions!"
They also had a fierce dance competition, with kids busting moves and cutting loose.
Scott asked, "Isn't this better than doing crime??"
The school's principal, Daniel Mulia, said that talking to young kids about the challenges with drugs, crime, gangs and bullying has really become part of the job for teachers and administrators at school.
"It's sort of the way the world is changing now," Mulia said. "We have to make sure that we are not just teaching the kids how to read and write--that we are not just worrying about academics. We really have to worry about them before the come to school and when they leave school."
Several of the children echoed the message the program teaches, "Just say no!"
The lessons appear to be setting in and having an impact, with the officer hoping he's helping.
"If I have changed one child, I have done something," Scott said. "Do something."