National Night Out has been postponed to October due to community concerns regarding COVID-19. (August 5, 2021)
With the highly anticipated opening of the new school year right around the corner, local law-enforcement agencies are planning community events to help young people and their families get back in the swing of things and create connections.
Jacksonville’s National Night Out is now scheduled for Aug. 5 at the Riverwalk Crossing Park in downtown Jacksonville. After a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19, the event originally was set for Aug. 3, but organizers considered the likelihood of inclement weather and decided to delay the event by a couple of days. It’s set to start at 5 p.m. Thursday and end with fireworks over the New River around 9 p.m.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office also is offering fun and games for families with Operation Jumpstart on Sunday, Aug. 8, at Hubert Bypass Park. Both events are designed to build stronger relationships between residents, particularly children, and law-enforcement officers.
National Night Out, presented by the Jacksonville Police Department and the City of Jacksonville, traditionally draws thousands to the downtown area. It has been recognized as one of the best National Night Out events in the country. It is held to raise awareness on public safety, crime prevention, health, education and youth programs. Law enforcement and other agencies from throughout the county, as well as community sponsors and vendors, participate.
Renewing their commitment, One Place staff members plan to be on hand for National Night Out to provide information about their programs. Kara Darnell, Child Care Resource and Referral Coordinator, is heading up One Place’s participation. “We attend National Night Out to come together with the community to promote not just our programs but that we are part of the community and support our Public Safety partners,” she said. “Every interaction in the community is designed as a protective factor for children and families.”
The Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families Approach and include parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, knowledge of parenting and child development, and social and emotional competence of children. Research shows that when these Protective Factors are present within a family there is a reduction in the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. These protective factors also build family strengths and a family environment that promotes child and youth development.
Social connections are an important protective factor. “By participating in community events such as National Night Out, we are promoting quality family bonding time,” Darnell said. “Community support is considered a concrete support and acts as a protective factor as well.”
Darnell said the participation of One Place and other entities that work with children in Onslow County helps families know what the community has to offer. “We are hoping to make a lasting impression,” she said. “So, if it’s not a resource they are personally looking for, they will remember us and share when they come across someone that we can work with.”
Among the scheduled attractions at NNO are a bicycle giveaway, backpacks with school supplies, demonstrations, exhibits, food vendors, public-safety themed vendors, children’s activities, live music and fireworks. The event is free and open to everyone, though visitors are asked to leave their pets at home. Jacksonville Transit will provide a free shuttle from nearby locations. For an event map, including information on parking and transportation, visit jacksonvillenc.gov/191/National-Night-Out.
Operation Jumpstart on Aug. 8 is the last of a series of four events held over the summer at parks throughout the county. The activities include bounce houses and a chance to interact and play games with deputies in a relaxed environment. The event is sponsored by the Sheriff’s Office and Onslow County Parks and Recreation. The fun at Hubert Bypass Park begins at 1 p.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. It is free and open to all ages. For more information, telephone 910-455-3113.
Darnell said families should try to take advantage of events such as Operation Jumpstart and National Night Out, especially now. “Along with ensuring a sense of community, an outdoor event and a social activity after so much time away from everyone due to the pandemic is something we need to support,” she said.
For more information on the work of One Place and the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework, visit https://www.oneplaceonslow.org/our-work/child-mental-health/