Fifth-grade students at Muskegon Middle School will begin receiving drug- and gang-resistance training in November.
The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T) program aims to deter students from participating in destructive behaviors before they start.
Jeffrey Lewis, the city's director of public safety, says students are especially susceptible to the pressures of gang activity and drug abuse once they begin middle school.
"If we can get to them at the same time and introduce different concepts, principles and programs to them, we really feel--and I believe this--it makes a difference in a lot of kids," Lewis said.
The program will be funded by a local grant from the Muskegon County Community Foundation. The $2,600 grant pays for specialized training for the instructing officers and any materials needed. Additional costs will be paid by the Muskegon Police Department, and the school if possible.
More than 300 students will participate in the 10-week pilot.
The key goals of the program include: reducing crime activities at all age levels, making mentors available to students, and developing positive relationships between police and youth.
"We think this is something that will really help kids as far as drug abuse and alcohol," Lewis said.
There will be a kick-off event for fifth-graders and their families on Wednesday, October 14 at 6 p.m. in the Muskegon Middle School cafeteria.
- Paulette Parker, Michigan Radio Newsroom