In an effort to strengthen community bonds and foster positive relationships between students and law enforcement, BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 hosted its first “School Grounds and Games” event that brought together Williamsport Borough of Police, State Police, Juvenile Probation Officers, and other esteemed law enforcement officers.

The event, held last week at the South Academy for Integrated Services, aimed to create an open and engaging platform for students to interact with law enforcement officers in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The initiative is part of a broader strategy to build trust, understanding, and collaboration between the student body and local law enforcement agencies.

Each classroom hosted a variety of interactive game stations, providing students with the opportunity to engage with law enforcement officers on a personal level. Officers, in turn, visited stations, joining in on the activities and building connections with the students.

One of the highlights of the event was the active participation of Candi William’s Life Skills classroom, which provided refreshments and pastries to participants through their “School Grounds Coffee Cart.” The involvement of the School Grounds Coffee Cart not only aids in teaching transition-age vocational skills but also showcases the Intermediate Unit’s commitment to bringing students and the community together in meaningful ways.

“The goal of this event was to create an environment where students and law enforcement officers could interact on a personal level, fostering understanding and trust between these two vital components of our community,” said Ashley Heckrote, Supervisor of the South Academy for Integrated Services. “We are thrilled with the positive response and engagement from both students and officers.”

Encouraged by the success of the event, the South Academy has announced its hope to make this initiative a semi-annual occurrence, further solidifying the commitment to ongoing community engagement and collaboration.

The “School Grounds and Games” event received partial funding from the BLaST IU 17 Educational Enhancement Foundation, underscoring the importance of community support in the future of our students, and as a result, the community at large.  For those interested in supporting future IU 17 events, donations can be made at