AN OKLAHOMA CITY Police Department officer stood intently at the front of the large room. All eyes were locked at attention, waiting for his next command. He leaned forward, raised an eyebrow in each direction and exclaimed, “Go!”
A hush fell over the room as 25 kids began scrambling at their tables to assemble a tower of Jenga blocks with their group by using only one hand, their thumb and pointer finger. Sitting at one of the front tables was Thunder two-way guard, Luguentz Dort who oozed with the same fierce competitiveness he brings on the court. The past two rounds, Dort’s table had come in last place – this time, he meant business.
Suddenly, shouts erupted from one of the tables in the front as hands shot up signaling that the task was finally complete. The officer pointed in their direction and shouted, “First place!”
Relieved, Dort sat back in his chair and smiled after seeing that his group could rally back and work together to pull off a win.
“Anytime you do something as a team, everything is just better,” said Dort.
This was the theme of the day on Saturday – building together. Twenty-five members of the Oklahoma City Police Department’s F.A.C.T. Program were treated to a laid-back afternoon of fun at the Thunder Corporate Office. The Family Awareness and Community Teamwork program, also known as F.A.C.T. serves as a community outreach program led and run by the Oklahoma City Police Department where police officers dedicate time mentoring, empowering and inspiring youth ages 10 to 17. OKCPD is the only police department in the country with a full-time unit dedicated to such a program.
The afternoon included lunch, a tour of the offices, a Q&A with Dort and group activity which ultimately illustrated the power of teamwork and working in unity. Appropriately, each participant wore shirts with Unity printed boldly on the chest provided by the Thunder.
“We want the kids to recognize that one person is not an island by themselves and we’re better together,” said Lieutenant Wayland Cubit, the program’s founder and supervisor of 13 years. “The activity that we did today was just to show them that in the chaos of life, the main thing we want to do is try to connect to one another, look at each other’s gifts and talents and build something special together.”
After the chaos of the activity died down, the officer leading the activity returned to the front of the room and held up two blocks in the air.
“We have to make sure that in order for our city to be great, everyone brings their blocks to the table,” he said as he made eye contact with every member of the group. “You guys are going to have the blocks to build this city. I want to make sure you have the best blocks.”
The Thunder and Dort brought their blocks to the table that day as well. Together they helped to construct an impactful, memorable day for each of the potential-filled kids in the room.
“I hope it ushers in more hope and inspiration into the minds of our kids that if they work hard, if they keep doing what they’re doing, stay on the right track, there’s infinite long-term possibilities for their future that leads to success,” said Lt. Wayland.