Three SROs (School Resource Officers), a passionate school counselor, and an entire body of fourth graders are all that is needed for a GREAT event. And they all made it happen at the Morgan County Elementary School earlier this month.
With the coordination of MCES School Counselor Bethany Carter, Deputy Louis Smith, Deputy Laurie Collins, and Deputy Kim Williams shared their knowledge of making wise decisions, clear communication, anger management, and being unified in a community during their Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) session with a room full of eager youth.
“During the class we rarely talk about gangs or glorify them,” Deputy Collins shared. “Rather we hope to give our students tools to make good choices, have discussions about ways to handle making good decisions, and to know what they can do when faced with a lot of today’s problems.”
The GREAT program was developed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Phoenix Police Department to prevent youth crime, violence, and gang involvement.
Although the certified GREAT instructors have taught various ages of students, Deputy Collins believes fourth grade students are at a great age to begin the program.
“I have seen an impact in students that have had the class,” Deputy Collins said. “Many of the students I first taught are now eighth graders in the school that I am assigned to now. I have seen many using the tools that we gave them in fourth grade… I would love to start these skills much earlier but, we are gratefully for any chance we have to empower our youth with life skills.”
Small town Madison may not be overflowing with gang activity like larger cities, but we are no less susceptible. There’s no better way to start proactivity than with our youth.