Children learned the importance of building trust with law enforcement during the annual Battle Buddies event at Shaw Park on Saturday.
Saturday was the third time the event was hosted by Palmetto Optimist Club, which was chartered in May 2016.
The purpose of the event is to promote respect for law enforcement as well as physical health for children, said club president Melissa Marshall.
Personnel from Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter Police Department, Sumter County Sheriff's Office and Sumter Fire Department participated in the event and assisted children through the obstacle course which included agility, strength and endurance exercises.
Marshall said she was interested in joining Palmetto Optimist Club because of its dedication to providing education and recreational resources for children.
She said she enjoyed seeing the children have fun outside with military personnel and local first responders on Saturday. It's important to give them an outlet like that, she said.
Marshall said Saturday was the first time during the Battle Buddies event that a competition element was added. The fastest time that a child completed the course was 2 minutes and 47 seconds, she said.
The children ended the evening with a refreshing water balloon fight after completing the obstacle course one last time.
Also present on Saturday was Safe Kids Sumter County, sponsored by the Tuomey Foundation, which was encouraging children to wear life jackets while in the water.
Residents of Sumter and Manning communities may also see members of Palmetto Optimist Club participating in other initiatives throughout the year that promote education and encourage reading.