Kristal Turner-Childs’ dedication to serving others was sparked by an incident that happened when she was just 10 years old.
It happened the day a young man in her Allison Hill neighborhood fell and struck his head on asphalt during a street fight. As the victim’s blood streamed across the pavement, it was young Kristal who broke through a circle of dazed bystanders and dashed inside. Instinctively, she grabbed a phone and dialed 911 for help.
Her actions were said to have saved the man’s life.
That day, Turner-Childs felt “10 feet tall,” she recently recalled. She felt powerful knowing that it was her own quick actions that prevented the incident from ending in tragedy. She later heard that the injured young man made a full recovery.
With that, Turner-Childs decided to become a police officer, a goal she later was to achieve with great passion and much success. In fact, last October, she became just the second African American woman in the history of the Pennsylvania State Police to achieve the rank of major.
Before that, she was the commanding officer of Troop L in Reading, making her the first African American women in state police history to serve as a troop commander.
Then there’s the row of gleaming awards that line her office bookshelf at the state police headquarters in Susquehanna Township. Her most recent honor was the Catalyst Award from the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, which she received at a ceremony at Whitaker Center in December.
That award honors “those making a difference in our communities, creating more opportunities for businesses, and building a brighter future for our region,” according to the chamber. Turner-Childs said she was “shocked” when told she’d won it.
“I was like, ‘What?’” she recalled with a laugh. “I was speechless. What a great honor!”
Other notable recognitions include the Citizen of the Year Award and the Women of Influence Award.
Turner-Childs also is founder and CEO of Eyes Wide Open, LLC, Harrisburg, where she serves as a fitness guru and motivational speaker for women. The venue’s website lists its mission as “attempting to empower women to take charge of not only their physical health, but their mental and spiritual health.”
Eyes Wide Open achieves this goal by offering workshops on self-esteem, goal-setting, healthy relationships, professional networking and more.
“I try to get to the heart of people in a way that speaks to them,” she explained. “What people need is someone who’s there for them. I don’t want you just to tell me you that you’re fine and to keep going. I want to know your soul. I want to know people from the inside out.”
Friends don’t appear surprised by her far-reaching success. In fact, they probably would have been surprised if it didn’t happen.
“Major Turner-Childs is truly an amazingly empathic, selfless woman,” said Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Kelly E. Lentz, who works across the hall from her. “Whether she is on duty in uniform or off duty within the community where she lives, she is always there to lend a hand and put others’ needs before her own.”
Carmen Henry-Harris has known Turner-Childs for 22 years.
They met as members of the Harrisburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, one of the largest African American sororities in the United States. The sorority is involved with other nonprofit groups and focuses on professional development, mentoring and helping local students by providing scholarships.
Turner-Childs, she said, is very involved with the community and, especially, with young people.
“She’s always available to speak to young people, people in need, or anyone, really,” Henry-Harris said. “Kristal always gives back.”