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Roanoke City police officer named Community Impact Hero for outreach program

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ROANOKE CITY (WSLS 10) - This year, a Roanoke City police officer was actually chosen as the Red Cross Community Impact Hero. Officer Travis Akins works for the city police department, but his efforts helping create the Growth Through Opportunity program are far reaching in our community.

The idea for this first-of-its-kind program came from Officer Akins and Chief Chris Perkins as an outreach for the cadets with special needs, but also to provide interaction for the officers.

He says it gives the cadets purpose.

"If we're setting them up for success in the school system, but yet not doing anything with them once they come of age, once they hit that magic age of 18, what are they doing.  Are they sitting back in their bedrooms playing video games, Officer Akins explained.

Officer Akins is working to expand the program to include more cadets and more employers this summer.

Eventually, organizers hope it's picked up nationwide.

If you know someone interested in joining the GTO program.  Officer Akins says for them to fill out a generic Roanoke City volunteer application and mention "GTO cadet."

Cadets must be 18-years-old and have a cognitive impairment.