DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A class of 16 young men in Dekalb County is almost through a special kind of summer camp that teaches them life lessons.
The Boys to Men program, created by Sheriff Melody Maddox is a summer camp equipping young boys between the ages of 9-16 with the life skills they will need as they become men.
Sheriff Maddox said she created the program after talking to inmates about why they ended up behind bars and what could've made a difference.
"Our youth are not asking for things- in society we give our youth things, these young men are seeking time- they want to know that they are loved, that they are appreciated and they receive it," said Maddox.
The classes are run by Law Enforcement with the help of groups like 100 Black Men and the Omega Psi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternities, which Maddox explained are important.
"Only a man can teach a boy how to be a man", said Maddox. "I'm a firm believer of that....they see individuals that look like them that have succeeded and some of them even come from their same neighborhood."
During the program, the boys are learning how to tie a tie, taking etiquette classes, and learning how to effectively resist gangs and bullying.
Maddox said the camp covers a wide range of life skills and also helps bridge the gap between these young men and law enforcement.
"If they see it's a positive- law enforcement is actually helping us stay out of jail and give us different avenues to better ourselves, rather than just trying to arrest us then, therefore, I want to be a part of that," said Deputy Tommy Jones.
As of now, the camp is only a one-week, but camper Andrew Davis said the lessons learned will last much longer.
"With a guy helping me it was pretty easy so now I know how to tie a tie myself," said Davis. "It's surprising just how great police people are and how they have helped us and tried to change our lives."
This summer, the Dekalb County Sheriff's Office held two sessions of the camp, but Maddox hopes to expand the camp to reach more boys next summer.
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