Youth program encourages Richmond Co. kids to stay out of trouble

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 7:02 PM EST
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HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The sheriff’s office is working with kids across the county in hopes that a youth program will help keep them from getting involved with criminal activity in the future.

It’s called CHAMPS. Which stands for ‘choosing healthy activities and methods promoting safety.’

We were at a graduation ceremony for the program in Hephzibah Tuesday morning.

We talk about crime in our community and what the sheriff’s office is doing to connect with the community, and this program is doing just that.

A Richmond County deputy may be in your child’s school teaching them some very important life lessons.

At Deer Chase Elementary, it wasn’t a normal start to their school day. The entire school and parents filled the cafeteria to celebrate a special group of students.

“I was very excited, and I’ve been supporting her since day one,” said Phylicia Laughline, her daughter is in the program.

It’s been 12 weeks since the students started the program.

“She came home to talk about all of the amazing things the program has done for her,” she said.

Deandra Bolin’s daughter is also in the program. She said, “My daughter enjoyed it a lot, and she was excited to go to school every Tuesday because that’s the day of the program.”

Starting in 2003, different schools will partner with the sheriff’s office to teach classes.

CHAMPS Instructor Deputy Joseph Hawk said: “I think it helps create a strong bond with children in our community, and they bring that back home to their families.”

Hawk is a first-year CHAMPS teacher with the sheriff’s office. He says the school typically picks out what classes to teach.

“Anything ranging from ATV safety, hunter safety, prescription drug abuse, stress, and things like narcotics, and stuff like that,” he said.

He’s been on road patrol for the last five years but believes this program is making an impact in the community.

“I get to make a stronger connection with the younger population in Richmond county, and I feel like I’m able to make a bigger difference in my position now teaching these students safe practices and making these bonds with them,” said Hawk.