ORONO — The Bangor and University of Maine police departments have launched a new Kids ‘n’ Kops trading card program intended to raise awareness about bullying and substance abuse prevention among elementary and middle school youngsters, according to a news release from UMaine.

The series of 14 trading cards features male and female UMaine student-athletes who play Division I sports at the state’s flagship university. Members of the Bangor and UMaine police departments will distribute the cards at community events, including university athletic games at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor and on campus.

Youngsters can collect five cards and bring them to one of the two police departments for a free Kids ‘n’ Kops T-shirt and two tickets to a UMaine basketball game.

The goal, say the organizers, is to foster positive interactions between police officers and youths, and reinforce important messages about health and well-being.

“We are pleased to be part of a program that promotes an active lifestyle for the youngsters in our community by using student-athletes as an example of hard work and healthy choices,” says Bangor Police Chief Mark Hathaway in the release. “We appreciate our partnership with UMaine and thank the UMaine student-athletes for their participation.”

“We want to be proactive in promoting quality goals for healthy living to young people, many of whom we hope will be future UMaine Black Bears,” said UMaine Police Chief Roland LaCroix in the release. “It’s important that youths know that police officers can be helpful resources and UMaine student-athletes are role models they can look up to.”

From 1986 to 1988, a similar program called Kids & Kops, spearheaded by then-UMaine men’s basketball coach and UMaine alumnus Skip Chappelle, featured UMaine and other area law enforcement officials distributing trading cards as part of an anti-drug campaign. Those trading cards also featured UMaine student-athletes, several of whom went on to professional sports careers.

“We believe in the long-term value of a program that brings together the youth of our community and the police,” said Chappelle, in the release, who is helping coordinate this campaign with another UMaine alumnus — Irv Marsters, owner of Bangor Letter Shop. “This program also communicates the messages of health and well-being through sports.”

Maine Savings Federal Credit Union is a corporate sponsor of this year’s Kids ‘n’ Kops campaign.

About the University of Maine:

The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state’s premier public university and is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2015. UMaine is among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast and attracts students from Maine and 45 other states, and 65 countries. It currently enrolls 10,922 total undergraduate and graduate students who can directly participate in groundbreaking research working with world-class scholars. The University of Maine offers doctoral degrees in 35 fields, representing the humanities, sciences, engineering and education; master’s degrees in nearly 70 disciplines; 90 undergraduate majors and academic programs; and one of the oldest and most prestigious honors programs in the U.S. The university promotes environmental stewardship on its campus, with substantial efforts aimed at conserving energy, recycling and adhering to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine, visit umaine.edu.

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