Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2007, $101,258)
The Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program is a life-skills competency program designed to provide students with the skills they need to avoid gang pressure and youth violence. G.R.E.A.T.'s violence prevention curriculum helps students develop values and practice behaviors that will assist them to avoid destructive activities. The G.R.E.A.T. program coordinates with federal, regional, state and local agencies, as well as individuals from community and civic groups. The goal of the G.R.E.A.T. program is to train law enforcement officers in a school-based curriculum in which the officers provide instruction to school-aged children in life skill competencies, gang awareness, and anti-violence techniques. Training in the core G.R.E.A.T. program is provided to officers from any state or local law enforcement agency.
The Union Police Department's goal is to reach the young people of the Township at the earliest age possible to help them begin to establish positive life skills, healthy conflict resolution, and awareness of gang presence so they will be fully educated on the dangers gangs present to the community and the negative life consequences of affiliation with these groups. By establishing officer presence in the elementary grades, children become familiar with the G.R.E.A.T. officers and have time throughout their school experience to develop positive relationships with the police. Union's G.R.E.A.T. program is ongoing and increases in intensity during the middle school years when adolescents are more likely to fall prey to negative peer group influence. By helping students to build healthy levels of self esteem and self confidence and making them aware of the overall life consequences of violence and gang affiliation, these students can be prepared to face the challenges that the teen years bring.
The Union Police Department's G.R.E.A.T. program begins with all 1170 third and fourth grade students in the Township. The elementary school component is also taught to all of Union's 600 fifth grade students.
The G.R.E.A.T. core program is presented to all 650 seventh grade students in Union's two public and two parochial middle schools annually. Additionally, the Union Police Department will run their annual Junior Police Academy and G.R.E.A.T Summer Games program for one week during the summer months for 100 students who will be entering the sixth grade. Throughout the year, additional programs are presented to educate parents on the dangers of gangs and help parents become aware of the signs of gang activity.
All officers are trained in the G.R.E.A.T. Families program, which will be implemented throughout the school year. It will be offered to the parents of all elementary and middle school youth. Participation of at least 50 families throughout the school year is expected.
The G.R.E.A.T. Program is also presented to students who attend various summer programs and day camps within the Township, such as the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club of Union County. Other activities that are conducted throughout the year include the Father Daughter Dinner, Mother Son Carnival, Bullying and Harassment Program, Teacher Workshop Gang Awareness Presentations, Family Fitness Night, and Parent Programs. All of these events offer the opportunity to educate parents and children and also provide healthy and fun-filled family activities that guarantee an environment that is drug and violence free.