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A new program designed specifically for Douglas County kids ages 9 to 11 years of age will launch Thursday, September 1, 2022. This initiative, known by its acronym S.T.A.N.D. (Students Taking Action for a Non-Violent Douglas), is free to participants and empowers youth to be leaders in their respective schools by demonstrating kindness and being courageous in the face of peer pressure to join gangs or commit violent criminal offenses. S.T.A.N.D. is a collaborative effort between the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Juvenile Court, and Juvenile Programs Administration Department. Youth will engage in leadership curriculum from the book Lead Up! by Bernard K. Haynes and work through scenarios with Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Mason
S.T.A.N.D. represents a merger of two visions – that of Deputy Mason and the other of Juvenile Court Associate Judge Talia J. Nurse. The two recognized that as violent crimes and gang-related activity continue to rise among youth in Douglas County, there was an immediate need for programming which captures the minds and attention of youth in the 9 to 12 age range who are becoming aware of gangs and starting to idolize the behavior. “Being young is empowering, being knowledgeable is unstoppable,” said Deputy Mason who is excited to see the program take off and hopeful that the 12-week leadership-intensive curriculum he facilitates will help to cultivate the minds of the youngsters chosen to participate in the program.
“This could not have come at a better time. In the past six months, we know of at least three instances where young people under the age of 17 were killed by gunfire and a few of those instances are believed to be gang-related,” said Judge Nurse. “There is a big misconception that children within the targeted age range know nothing about gangs. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They are watching older siblings and beginning to idolize the lifestyle from very early ages. The sooner we can work to steer them towards a better path and brighter future, the better.”
S.T.A.N.D. is grateful to have the support of community partners like DCSO Captain Trent Wilson who has graciously allowed the use of his church Open Door Christian Church International as the weekly meeting location. Parents and caregivers of youth interested in participating in S.T.A.N.D. should visit the Juvenile Programs Administration tab on the county’s webpage at celebratedouglascounty.com for more information. Spaces are limited.