The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Gang Resistance Education and Training program, or GREAT, is holding its second week of summer camp for students in 4th through 8th grade.
The summer camp is held annually for students who are part of their school’s GREAT program.
Riverside High School junior Lissania Perez participated in the program in 2015. She says it made her more aware about the consequences of gang violence and drugs.
“Things were told to me directly, you see. They talk about gangs and violence and drugs and all these things that students are using, it was told to me like, 'Hey this is a thing and this happens,'” Perez says.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach says he hopes the students will remember this program when making big decisions.
“Hopefully we’re adding to some of the things they get at home or at school, so that when they come to hard decisions or difficult choices or who to choose as a friend,” Roach says. “That they remember their interaction that they had here at camp or they had here with an officer and think differently about those choices.”
Retired IMPD officer Marilyn Gurnell, who now teaches the program during the summer camp, says that this has been the case for many of her students throughout the years.
“I’ve had students say, ‘If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today,'” Gurnell says. “‘You taught me how to set goals, make good decisions, stay away from the wrong crowd, how to avoid peer pressure, how to stay cool, and walk away from conflicts.'”
GREAT is part of the city’s overall effort to provide fun and educating activities for youth during the summer to teach violence prevention.