Exercise program smashes stereotypes, pairing youth and law enforcement
The Badges and Barbells Weightlifting Club is a unique program that builds connections between King County and the community. The program is targeted toward students and First Responders, which includes law enforcement, corrections and fire personnel. It focuses on weightlifting, conditioning workouts and additional exercises to improve individual health and allow participants to form positive relationships.
Andrew McCurdy, Sergeant with the King County Sheriff’s Office and current Covington Chief of Police, heads the program.
“As First Responders, we too often only have contact with teenagers during times of crisis,” he said. “By getting cops to come in and work out with the kids, we’re smashing some stereotypes on both sides that often make communication difficult under stress.”
The program was created with the intention to save taxpayers money while also better serving the community. Andrew recalls that it was perfect blending of resources, time and space.
“When I was previously working with the Sheriff’s Office Training Unit I started working with the Highline School district on a few projects,” he said. “We discovered that our agencies could collaborate in a lot of different ways.”
“The Sheriff’s Office had a lot of resources that could benefit the District’s employees and students, while the District had unused space we could use to conduct our programs.”
Held in the weight room at Evergreen High School, the program is open to all students, personal and teachers. Monday through Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., youth of all skill levels gather with McCurdy or other volunteers and go over a structured high-quality exercise program that develops movement and agility.
USA Weightlifting (USAW) certified coaches help each person identify his or her goals and adapt to the program to meet those needs. Andrew and other volunteers have created a positive and supportive environment where students can progress at work out at their own pace.
“The benefits of the exercise program go well beyond just building physical strength,” he said. “It can help with stress reduction, build self-confidence and contribute to overall improvements in health and well-being.”
“These are all areas that cops and kids need to focus on to be successful!”
With a background in sports performance coaching, Andrew is glad to be able to combine his passion for coaching and athletic training with his career as a law enforcement officer. He sees to it that each participant has the opportunity to strengthen their physical abilities and be healthier.
“At the beginning, we had a few female track athletes come in, and they didn’t really take it seriously,” he said. “Now I see them in here, working with the weights or on the machines and they really enjoy it.”
“It has been gratifying to see people transform as they get stronger and learn to move better.”
Andrew currently shares coaching duties with Kelly Park, a Sheriff’s Office Training Unit Sergeant. Sheriff’s Office Captain Carl Cole is helping coach the track team throwers and was recruited through Badges and Barbells connections. An additional Evergreen teacher, Zach Hermsen, also coaches with the program.
Going forward, Andrew plans to expand the Badges and Barbells program to Cedar Heights Middle School in Covington, but would like to see it replicated at other schools as well. He hopes this growth will continue to attract other First Responders and potential coaches to help further its success.
“This program is fun, supportive and a great opportunity for cops and youth to build camaraderie. I would encourage any First Responder to stop by and check it out!”
The Badges and Barbells Program is a collaboration between the Puget Sound First Responders Service Foundation (formerly the Greater King County Police Activities League) and the Highline School District. It received funding through the Foundation and Alaska Airlines to purchase equipment and had a formal debut in December 2015, which featured former U.S. Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach. The program was recently highlighted by King 5. For more information about the program please contact Sgt. Andrew McCurdy at Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org.