SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Friday, the Shreveport Fire Department off its summer mentoring program at the Bilberry Park Community Center. It was the first of three mentoring days designed to reach out to young people and how they can make a difference in their community.

In fact, the fire department says the mentoring program, which had close after the first 200 kids, was something the community personally requested.

“We want to make sure that the kids know that the Shreveport Fire Department as well as Shreveport Police Department are our friends, and not just to be afraid of them but to know that they are here to serve and protect,” said Kenneth Cornelius, the division manager at the Spar Recreations.

Friday’s mentoring program was a chance to inspire.

“As firefighters, we recognized that we are role models and we want to be good role models. And we also want to use that good role model influence, to influence them in a positive direction, ” said Shreveport Fire Chief Scott Wolverton.

Kids also were shown the skills and techniques used daily by emergency responders.

“They will be able to know how to do CPR; they’ll be able to know exits if there’s fires; they will be able to help with anything that’s dangerous they’re getting the tools that they need to be aware from losing our lives to saving the next person,” said Cammy Wright, a volunteer at Empire Queenz.

Clarence Reese,  assistant to the fire chief said the same core values firefighters use on the job can be used to help kids make better life choices.

“But if we can try to get into the minds of the youth right now the importance of being trust worthy, team work and things like that hopefully this translates into them making better decisions when they’re at home, out playing with friends, or just hanging out,” Reese said.

The next mentoring programs will take place in July and August.