WARWICK, RI — The Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick offered kids a socially-distanced school break MMO – massive multiplayer online game – Roblox, with the help of the Warwick Police Athletic League andCox Communications at the club’s Oakland Beach site Feb. 19.
Roblox, an online game platform and game creation system developed by Roblox Corporation, allows users to program and play games created by other users.
During the massive multiplayer online eSports game, kids create and interact in immersive 3D worlds, according to a statement about the event from Development Director Eleanor M. Acton. During the eSports event officers competed with their PAL mentees in a pandemic-conscious environment. Kids could choose to participate in Club’s gym or remotely. BGCW routinely provides kids access to much-needed technology platforms and peer socialization, while incorporating social distancing, mask wearing, and good hygiene into its daily routines, Acton said.
The eSports event was part of PAL’s recent pivot to a mentoring program in lieu of traditional contact sports, in which Warwick police officers served in a mentor / mentee capacity with students from Warwick Veterans Memorial Middle School and West Bay Community Action Center, according to the BGCW.
Typically, PAL reaches more than 750 students through a range of sports programs like basketball, football, cheerleading, and bowling, but that number dropped significantly due to COVID-19. The organization moved away from contact sports to a mentoring program with the help of a $19,000 Mentoring Program Grant to align local youth with police officers serving as mentors. Weekly social and educational development activities help students develop leadership skills framed around making a positive impact on their communities, with local Boys and Girls Club facilities a natural meeting place for such endeavors.
Cox Communications, which provides internet access to the club, built on the pro-tech and interconnectedness focus of City of Warwick and its Boys and Girls Club facilities, collaborating with Club leaders and WPD Officer Russell Brown, executive director of Warwick PAL, to create the school vacation week event allowing students and police officers to enjoy a final face-off before the mentoring program wrapped up.
“As police officers, we feel an intrinsic duty to serve our community not only through advocating for public safety, but also to inspire our local youth to grow into tomorrow’s leaders,” said Brown. “While we are eager to return to the field, court, and rink for in-person competition, we are extremely proud of the participants in our first-ever peer mentoring program, and grateful for the support from Cox Communications and the Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs to give the kids a chance to show our officers a thing or two in the digital arena.”
The Cox-powered Oakland Beach facility was a natural fit for an eSports event. Cox had previously presented the BGCW with a $25,000 Innovation Lab from the James M. Cox Foundation at its Norwood branch on Frederick St.