SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sumner County students are getting a chance to work with School Resource Offices this summer during a week-long camp teaching them right from wrong and other ways to stay on the right path in life.
“The age group in fifth grade, 10 or 11, they are super influential. They are kind of at that tipping point of whether they are going to stray one way or the other,” said Deputy Chris Vines.
Fifth grade students are finishing up their camp this week and middle school students will begin next week.
“It is harder to change minds of those that are older especially teenage, early adulthood.”
The G.R.E.A.T. Camp, or Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, is teaching students ways to avoid falling into a life of gangs, drugs and alcohol while feeding them and providing recreation, too.
Renee Workings is a SRO at Gallatin High School and hopes this camp will help deter students from trouble before they make it to the ninth grade.
“The more positive influences they have from us as SROs, even teachers and parents, the better off it is going to be in the long run,” said Workings.
Workings told News 2 that there are signs parents need to look for when it comes to gang life.
“Pay attention to their friends. They are not giving a care about their school work. They don’t want that structure so to speak,” Workings explained.
Just because Sumner County may not seem like a hot spot for gangs, Workings said they are there and the activity heats up in the summer.
“They feel like it is a club and they fight, they do things like that but they are enriched in it because their family members are there,” she said.
The sheriff’s department is using this proactive approach to curb youth violence at a young age.
“SROs can foster a positive relationship with our kids,” said Vines.
The camp is full for this year but the Sheriff’s Department hopes to expand the camp to all the elementary schools throughout Sumner County.
Applications for the camp are passed out in classrooms during the spring semester.