Students work toward C.H.A.M.P.S.

Published 2:53 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

The Georgia Sheriff’s Association C.H.A.M.P.S. (Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety) program recently concluded their fifth 12-week program for fifth-grade students in Decatur County.

The C.H.A.M.P.S. program seeks to provide an educational program to Georgia’s youth with an emphasis on providing guidance and the skills, ability and knowledge to be safe, healthy and happy in preparation for a successful life.

The program was founded in 2003 and was initially developed by a concerned group of sheriffs—including Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin—who were seeking to fill the void left by the loss of the D.A.R.E. program due to state budget cuts, according to Griffin. The group went to the Georgia Sheriff’s Association with the goal of creating and maintaining a similar program.

Going into its sixth year, the program will be expanded to 60 counties all across Georgia.

Griffin said the program includes 20 different specific educational programs, which can be made to fit specific community’s needs.

“It’s been a very, very good course,” said Griffin. “Schools, parents and kids have been very supportive of the program. They all have to work together.”

This year’s program was given by C.H.A.M.P.S.-certified sheriff’s deputy Chad Bennett who, in his second year of teaching the program, informed students on a diverse array of subject matter including drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse prevention; boating and swimming safety; hunting and gun safety; gangs and violence; and peer pressure. The 12-week program included a weekly hour-long session provided to students.

“This is a program that helps educate kids to make smart decisions in life and lead safer and healthier lives,” said Bennett.