Bibb’s first C.H.A.M.P.S. graduation is Georgia’s largest

lfabian@macon.comMay 8, 2014 

Skyview Elementary fifth-grader Evans Brown learned a lot in school this year about staying safe.

Nothing made a greater impression on him than the lessons about bullying he outlined in an essay contest.

“It happens a lot more than it should. You should always report bullying,” Evans read from his winning essay to hundreds of fifth-graders gathered at the Promise Center on Thursday morning. “A bystander has the power to stop and report bullying.”

Evans is one of nearly 2,000 of Bibb County’s first graduates of a new public safety education program taught in public and private schools.

C.H.A.M.P.S. stands for Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety and it launched in Macon at the start of the school year.

Bibb’s graduation was the state’s largest in the program initiated in 2003 by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, said Bibb County Sheriff David Davis.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, you have accomplished a great mission this year,” Davis told the youngsters and their teachers. “The things that you have learned ... we hope it will take you through the rest of your school year, school career and into your life.”

Bibb County sheriff’s deputies and Macon police officers began training last summer for the program that replaces the city’s Drug Awareness Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E. program, and the Bibb Junior Deputy program.

Organizers say it pulls the best of each of the former programs and includes information about substance abuse, bullying, Internet safety, leadership, peer pressure, gang dangers, violence, safety tips for ATVs and summer activities.

“Our goal this year was to teach good values, core values to our students ... that when they encounter the dangers of the world, that they will know how to handle them,” said Sgt. Tim James, a C.H.A.M.P.S. instructor for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

His lessons got through to Shaniyah Williams of Burdell Elementary.

“Just because of him, I will be drug free all my life,” Shaniyah read from her winning essay.

Christian Williams of Skyview Elementary also pledged to be drug free.

“I don’t want anything wrong with my body,” he said standing at the podium with instructor deputy Phil Sullivan, who later wowed the crowd along with James in their rendition of a C.H.A.M.P.S. rap.

Lt. Chris Dunn, another C.H.A.M.P.S. instructor, presented flowers to Porter Elementary’s Madison Spells after she read her essay about not trusting strangers and staying away from drugs.

“Mr. Lt. Dunn taught us everything that we needed to know in life, to choosing the right friends to being a good leader,” Madison said.

Bibb School Superintendent Steve Smith is impressed with the relationships the officers have built in the classroom.

“You could just see the degree of trust between the deputies and the C.H.A.M.P.S.,” Smith said after the program.

The education continues this summer.

Four summer camps are planned next month at Rutland, Weaver, Appling and Ballard middle schools for children aged 9 to 15.

Registration begins Monday by calling 803-2702.

The sheriff encouraged the children to share what they’ve learned with other kids in their families and neighborhoods.

Davis also bestowed on the graduates the title of Bibb County junior deputy.

“I could not be any more prouder of what you’ve accomplished,” Davis said. “You can make a difference in this community.”

James saluted the graduates as all champions.

“Everywhere you look, seems like there’s no hope,” James said. “You give us new hope that a new generation will stand up and rise up and say ‘No’ to drugs, say ‘No to violence.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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