Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $50,000)
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 curricula help students develop values and practice behaviors that will help them avoid destructive activities. G.R.E.A.T. program staff coordinate project activities with federal, regional, state, and local agencies, as well as individuals from community and civic groups. The goal of the program is to train criminal justice professionals to deliver a school-based curriculum that teaches life-skills competencies, gang awareness, and violence-avoidance techniques.
Harris County Precinct 6 will use the 2008 G.R.E.A.T. funds to implement all four components of the G.R.E.A.T. program: elementary, middle school, summer, and family. The department has developed a comprehensive program to combat gang activity and has identified several areas for strategic intervention such as truancy, dysfunctional families, drug activity, campus violence, and low-test scores. These areas of concern will be addressed by implementing the four components of the G.R.E.A.T. program, and by providing family counseling, community outreach, mentoring, and educating parents, educators, community leaders, and others on the intricacies of gang life and the prevention of gang activity. These initiatives complement the G.R.E.A.T. program as a means of deterring youth from joining gangs and keeping them off the streets.
During the course of the school year, G.R.E.A.T. officers will teach the program at several elementary and middle schools within the precinct. Officers will implement the program during four 45-minute classroom sessions on the elementary level over a period of six weeks. On the middle school level, officers will provide instruction over a 13-week period also during four 45-minute sessions.
The elementary and middle school curriculum will focus on positive conflict resolution, enhancing communication skills, goal setting, community involvement, developing better self-esteem, anger management, and cultural diversity. The officers incorporate their law enforcement experience and community concerns in addition to the G.R.E.A.T. training manual and G.R.E.A.T. transparencies during classes. They also provide workbooks to students, which accompany their regular homework assignments.
As part of the program, officers will spend a substantial amount of time counseling parents and students during the evening hours at the homes of G.R.E.A.T. participants. In addition to the after-school component, officers will attend community events and meet with new students and parents about the ill-affects of participating in gangs. The G.R.E.A.T. officers will also attend community meetings such as civic club meetings, PTA functions and other school-related events, and town hall gatherings.
The summer component of the program will be implemented at several locations including parks within the Houston Parks and Recreation system and at various community centers such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA. Precinct 6 will work with organizations to provide G.R.E.A.T. instruction, youth activities, and field trips to strengthen cultural diversity. The summer program will end with a graduation celebration at the two largest parks in the precinct.