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Youth fitness and crime prevention go together in Normal

The Bloomington Normal Athlete Factory won a contract with the Normal Police Department for a summer Youth In Fitness Program.
Athlete Factory
The Bloomington Normal Athlete Factory won a contract with the Normal Police Department for a summer Youth In Fitness Program.

Normal Police Chief Stephen Petrilli is a big believer in the benefits of physical fitness. One of the core values he emphasized when he got the job as chief is wellness, not just in the department but in the community.

Along came some crime prevention grant money that required service to the community, and Petrilli started dreaming about what fitness can do not just in health and longevity but for youth.

Normal Police Chief Stephen Petrilli

"Confidence building, learning how to be part of a team, learning how to do hard things, creating some discipline and motivation and leadership and some of the things I think can be forged in an environment of training," said Petrilli.

The department has given a contract to the Athlete Factory on Bronco Drive in Bloomington for an eight-week youth in fitness program for kids ages 13-17 that includes twice a week training.

"Along with that we're going to have officers involved in that program. It's kind of formal mentorship, to converse with the youth, to discuss anything they want to discuss anything from community-police relations all the way through what just may be on their mind," said Petrilli.

There will be 75 youth, gathered by referrals from community partners that have a stake in youth development.

“We've also leaned on our school resource officers as well as a good resource for who would be good candidates for this opportunity," said Petrilli.

Petrilli says they wanted to offer a chance for youth to develop a skill set or have an opportunity maybe they didn't have before because of socioeconomic factors or accessibility.

"We thought it would be a good way to get our officers involved with the youth and also build some of those traits and things that we think do prevent crime," said Petrilli.

The program begins next week.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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