"GREAT" Things Happening in the Classroom

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Young minds are like sponges soaking up the world around them.

"You have to get them when they’re young and raise them up, because if you start in high school or later they are already kind of set in their ways. The younger the better," said Leon County DEP Whiddon.

DEP Whiddon is a Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT instructor at Tallahassee's Fort Braden Elementary. The 13-week program is designed to reduce kids’ involvement with gangs and reduce delinquent behavior.

"How you should act when people come up to you and people you should talk to and you shouldn't," said Alex Vargas, a 6th grade student at Fort Braden.

Chara Hall wants to be a lawyer when she grows up. She said the great program is teaching her how decisions she makes now will affect her future.

"When I grow up I don't make any bad choices, so she comes in here and teaches me smoking. I am like, oh well, that's a bad choice," said Chara Hall.

Whiddon hopes the GREAT program will build a positive relationship between children and law enforcement. Whiddon said gangs often portray a sense of belonging, but this program teaches young people more positive ways to get involved.

Juvenile justice officials said the great program has helped to turn around the attitudes of many kids when it comes to gangs and law enforcement.