University News

Community Partners for 9/11 Observance and First Responder Event for Local Students

September 15, 2021

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MACOMB, IL – The McDonough County Quality of Life Youth Task Force, and the Macomb Police Department collaborated with multiple first responder and social service agencies to host local students for an observance of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Friday, Sept. 10, at Chandler Park in Macomb.

Over 300 students attending Edison, Macomb Junior High and St. Paul schools participated in the event, which provided the opportunity to meet local first responders representing six agencies: WIU's Office of Public Safety, the Macomb Police Department, Macomb Fire Department, Lifeguard Ambulance Service, McDonough County Sheriff Office and the Illinois State Police. During the event, classes of students visited each agency, talked with first responders, and learned about their jobs and the significance of 9/11.

The event was designed to remind attendees of the importance of local first responders' work, and support services provided in our region and beyond when addressing natural disasters and human-related emergency situations. Additionally, the passing of 20 years since this significant event in our country's history supported students' understanding of the heroic efforts demonstrated by first responders and ordinary citizens that day.

"I think it's important for the youth in our community to learn about the different law enforcement agencies in Macomb," said Derek Watts, director of WIU's Office of Public Safety. "The students were eager to learn what our job entails, and they had some really interesting questions regarding the events on Sept. 11, 2001."

This event was made possible through the collaborative work of multiple education, community and social service organizations around Macomb including: WIU's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration, Macomb Police Department, Regional Office of Education #26, McDonough Country Special Recreation Association, McDonough County Housing Authority, Macomb Park District, University of Illinois Extension 4-H and Western Illinois Regional Council and Community Action Agency-Victim Services.

"We are fortunate to have so many support agencies connected to the Quality of Life Youth Task Force, and their overarching willingness to collaborate together for the benefit of our youth and their families," said WIU RPTA Assistant Professor Megan Owens, the Youth Task Force chair. "Our planning group was supported by a partnership with the Macomb Police Department, which coordinated all of the first responders. Together, our community created an open environment for positive relationship-building between students and first responders."

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