NORTH WALES, Pa. (WTXF) - After 25 years, Spirit Gymnastics decided it was time to expand its reach in an effort to enhance community relationships. That’s when Officer Brant Whisler of the Upper Gwynedd Township Police started showing up.
“One of the girls asked me, ‘What did you do?’ because they saw me speaking with him,” gymnastics coach Mary Burch explained to FOX 29’s Bill Rohrer.
Burch wants to erase that stigma and replace it with positive message.
“As soon as an officer comes in, people stiffen up. People get nervous,” Burch said. “I want to encourage people not to panic when they see an officer, to greet them and to say hello. To interact and communicate, rather than be frightened or cowering away.”
So Mary invited Whisler come in and speak with the girls at the gym, helping them set up a plan in case of an emergency.
“We like to get involved, we like to be seen in public because that is what forms that relationship of trust,” said Whisler. “So I took that opportunity to, you know, have some fun.”
“Quite honestly, we didn’t know that was coming,” Burch said with a laugh.
The gym was in for a surprise, as Whisler was a gymnast growing up.
“It is just a matter of going out and not being afraid of embarrassing yourself,” said Whisler.
“It is really turning into a positive experience,” Burch said. “I don’t think even Officer Whisler knew what it was going to turn in to.”
One visit turned into a few, with fun and games allowing kids to connect and open up.
“It does help us too,” said Whisler. “People tell us, ‘Hey there is something going on over there, something might be wrong with my neighbor, I haven’t seen him.’ That is a huge help to us.”
“What it shows is… he clearly enjoys his job and he clearly enjoys life,” said Burch. “And that’s what it is all about.”