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Police officer starts camp for girls with special needs on her own dime, on her own time

 School resources Officer Angela Booker saw a need for a summer camp for girls with special needs. So she started one. With her own money. On her own time. Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)
School resources Officer Angela Booker saw a need for a summer camp for girls with special needs. So she started one. With her own money. On her own time. Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)

School resources Officer Angela Booker felt confused and hurt.

One of her favorite students, Athaleah “Leah” Kerchaval, a seventh grader with special needs, usually hugged Booker and called her “Auntie” or “Momma.”

But one day, a few years back, Leah started giving Booker the cold shoulder at Nashville’s Haynes Middle School, even ignoring the Metro Police officer when Booker asked the girl how she was doing.

Leah’s mother solved the mystery.Turns out Leah was upset that her sister was going to a police-run summer camp, but Leah was not. Her mom didn’t think Leah would be a good fit for the camp run by the Fraternal Order of Police.

And Leah’s sister teased her about it: I’m going to camp with YOUR Officer Booker!

“That really crushed Leah,” Booker said, adding that the girl blamed her.

That scenario planted a seed, and in 2018, Booker started T.E.A.M. 1 summer camp, a weeklong day camp for girls with special needs, girls who’d captured her heart . . .

Read more by Brad Schmitt at Tennessean

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