MILLEDGEVILLE — The Baldwin County Board of Education announced its collaboration with the Milledgeville Police Department during Monday’s work session to provide Oak Hill Middle School students with life skills to avoid delinquent behavior, violence and gangs. The new educational prevention program is called G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education And Training).
“The program starts in January, but it will be a year-long program,” School Superintendent Geneva Braziel said. “It consists of 13 lessons ... targeting life skills, violence prevention, conflict resolution, decision-making and problem-solving.”
Elementary school youth within the Baldwin County public school system are currently offered C.H.A.M.P.S. (Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety) program through the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. The program gives students skills and knowledge to be safe and healthy from drugs, gang violence and bullying. Additional prevention programs are not available once students leave the fifth grade.
“Students in the fifth grade usually go through C.H.A.M.P.S., which took the place of D.A.R.E. (Drugs Abuse Resistance Education), and at the end of elementary school, there are no other prevention programs; it stops,” Braziel said. “We’re hoping at least 800 of the students at Oak Hill will go through the program. Parents will have the option to decide if their child participates.”
In order for a law enforcement professional to teach the G.R.E.A.T. curricula, training must be completed for them to become certified. The program is taught in the classroom and can be used in conjunction with other prevention programs to encourage positive relationships among community, parents, schools and law enforcement.
“The curriculum is aligned with the health curriculum, so the health teacher doesn’t have to go back to re-teach those same standards. [Lt. Etta Gray with MPD] will be housed at Oak Hill to teach the program during the school day,” Braziel said. “This program doesn’t require any funds from [the school system]. The classroom materials are free and they will cover the cost.”