Dozens of Baltimore middle-school youth got an experience of a lifetime. They took a full behind-the-scenes look at an airport. Fifty kids from five recreational centers across the city participated in the annual Summer Youth Initiative hosted by Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). They spent several days learning how the airport operates, and TSA BWI played a big role in the program.
TSO Joyce Brown led the kids and their chaperones through the TSA checkpoint screening process. Each student was screened to gain access to the sterile area before taking an airfield tour and visiting the BWI Fire/Rescue Station.
“I was honored to be able to give a presentation to the students,” said Brown. “I talked to the students about TSA and what we do, why we do it and what our mission is. The students were attentive and interested and were able to ask questions. Several students may actually join us in the future.”
TSA BWI Canine Handlers Patrick McGonagle, Jonathan Lilly and Andrew Walker showed off their dogs, which was a big hit with the kids. “It’s always fun to get away from our normal day-to-day operations to do canine demonstrations, but these types of events are so much more rewarding,” said McGonagle. “For some of these kids, it’s the only chance they have to get out of the city and be in a completely different environment. Their level of excitement and the range of questions they have always makes this event a really enjoyable experience.”
Lilly said the best part for him was seeing the students engaged and opening up around canine Argo. “You could tell some of them were scared of dogs, and by the end, they were getting their pictures taken with him,” he said.
“It was extremely rewarding to see these kids and their attitudes change through the demonstration,” added Walker. “Many of them, who were initially reluctant to being around the dogs, quickly changed to a level of great excitement and curiosity for what our canine teams are capable of doing.”
Two Federal Air Marshals also showed the students how they train to protect themselves and demonstrated a few self-defense moves. “It was a great experience to work with the kids and see them really interested in police work,” they said. “We think they were able to both learn and have fun, which was our goal. We look forward to other opportunities to help and teach them about law enforcement.”
This was an event these kids and their chaperones won’t soon forget.