CHAMPS will stand against gangs - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

CHAMPS will stand against gangs

January 30, 2006

Albany -- Street gangs and drugs spark much of the violent crime in Albany. Georgia Sheriff's say the best way to prevent those crimes is to teach kids to stay away from gangs and drugs, before they are tempted.

Fifth grade CHAMPS graduates at Sherwood Acres Elementary receive their certificates. Captain Kevin Sproul of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office says, "Gangs, drugs, we talk about meth, cocaine, marijuana, and all those areas that kids face everyday in the walk of life."

CHAMPS stands for Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety. The nearly 90 graduates have learned street dangers, and how to handle them. "To show them the negative side of these things, and not to get involved in them, because it's a dead end street," Sproul said.

Joshua Smith thinks his classmates will remember these lessons. "We are going to make a difference, because we are going to go out and tell other people not to do drugs."

Parents were at the graduation, because they believe this program can help their kids make good choices. Parent Latanya Jackson said, "Like some of their friends are in jail right now. They look at that, and it's like I don't want to be in that crowd."

The CHAMPS program in Dougherty County is sponsored by Sheriff Jamil Saba. All 15 Dougherty County Elementary schools and one private school took part in the program, trying to fight gangs and drugs, by teaching the kids how to stay straight.

The Georgia Sheriff's Association is asking Georgia Legislators to sponsor a seventh grade Champs program statewide.

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