Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS) is an educational outreach program that engages students in the global effort to rid the world of landmines. The program raises awareness about landmines and gives students the chance to fund-raise and sponsor their very own Mine Detection Dog (MDD). Students within the U.S. also connect with students in mine-affected countries to promote global citizenship and cultural exchange.
How It Works
MLI staff visit schools and community groups around the U.S. to teach students and young people about landmines and their effects on people in other countries. Through simulated minefield demonstrations with MLI’s “canine ambassador,” MDD Senna, youth witness how Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) restore safety by “sniffing out” landmines.
Youth can then initiate their own CHAMPS campaign to raise money and sponsor their very own MDD. Students have the opportunity to name their dog and MLI staff will provide regular reports on the dog’s progress so that the youth are able to see the positive impact their MDD is having on a war-torn community.
Additionally, MLI connects students with schools in mine-affected countries to promote global citizenship and cultural exchange. Through monthly video conferences, the youth are not only able to learn about each other, but the children in the mine affected countries often identify young landmine survivors in their community that the students in the U.S. can then raise money to support.
Tens of thousands of students have participated in CHAMPS. Students have raised over $500,000 and sponsored an impressive 32 Mine Detection Dogs.
CHAMPS programs have been established in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Lebanon, Vietnam, and Yemen. U.S. students, touched by survivors’ stories, have raised money providing dozens of landmine survivors with the medical treatment they need.
CHAMPS campaigns are thriving in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington. To date, 32 MDDs have been sponsored by children through CHAMPS! If you are interested in getting involved in CHAMPS, please contact us!
In 2013, MLI’s CHAMPS team gave presentations to more than 12,000 students, teachers, and administrators in 37 schools, conducting dozens of 85 simulated minefield demonstrations with MLI’s canine ambassador. In additional to sponsoring mine detection dogs, CHAMPS youth raised funds to help more than 50 landmine survivors, providing them with prostheses, wheelchairs, and vocational training.
MLI is currently implementing several international CHAMPS initiatives:
- Currently, students at Roshan High School in Laghman Province are paired with Glenelg Country School in Maryland, Wister Elementary School, and Evergreen School in Washington. Additionally, Aybak High School in Samangan Province has been paired with American students in two schools.
- CHAMPS teams in Afghanistan delivered Mine Risk Education presentations to more than 13,000 civilians living within a 10km radius of their villages.
- During 2013, more than 50 landmine survivors have received prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, special walking canes, and vocational training.
- Twenty landmine survivors in Laghman and Samangan provinces of Afghanistan receive instructions in computer skills, most – if not all, have been employed as a direct result of their computer training.
- Seven landmine survivors received a sewing machine, supplies, and personal instruction. All of the women are currently using their skills to create and decorate products to sell in the market and help them earn a living wage.
Three Iraqi schools, two in Basra and one in Baghdad, participate in the CHAMPS-Iraq program. Students living in and around Basra, Iraq are currently partnered with schools in Texas. An additional school in Baghdad is in the process of being identified.
- Four young Iraqis received prosthetic limbs and rehabilitative care in the last year through the CHAMPS-Iraq campaign, and six more have been identified as good candidates to receive treatment.
- Mohammed Itewi, a triple amputee, is adjusting to his new prosthetic limbs and glass eye very well. CHAMPS-Iraq students raised funds for Mohammad to travel to Amman, Jordan for treatment. Later this year, MLI’s partner organization, the Iraqi Mine Clearance Organization (IMCO), hired Mohammad to assist in mine-risk education programs in Iraq.
- More than 550 Iraqis in the Baghdad and Basra areas received Mine Awareness and Mine Risk Education training.
- CHAMPS-Yemen began in September 2011 after the completion of a successful Survivors Assistance program in the country. In partnership with the Yemen Mine Action Center (YEMAC) and the Yemen Association for Landmine Survivors (YALS), MLI is facilitating regular Skype calls between the May 22 School and the Land of Hemyar School in Yemen, and Seven Lakes School in Katy, TX and La Vergne Lake Elementary School in La Vergne, TN.
- Several landmine survivors have already received prostheses and medical assistance through CHAMPS-Yemen and several more will receive care in the coming months.
- Twenty survivors completed a computer certificate training course with support from the CHAMPS program. Ten of the graduates were able to get better jobs with their new computer skills, and three were able to get jobs with the government.
- More than 100 students in Sana’a have received Mine Risk Education training and are now making presentations of their own in surrounding areas.
In many cases, student leaders who have led CHAMPS campaigns are nominated by their teacher to have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. and attend MLI’s annual “Clearing the Path” Gala and participate in the CHAMPS Student Leaders Workshop.
Student leaders from CHAMPS campaigns may also have the opportunity to travel with MLI staff to a mine affected country. Students can see MDDs at work, meet government officials who oversee demining in that country, and have the opportunity to interact with the mine affected country’s young student leaders.
Through individual and corporate sponsorship MLI has purchased, trained and delivered over 192 lifesaving dogs. Meet our dogs, and the donors who made everything possible.
CHAMPS Celebrates its 10th Anniversary!
CHAMPS is the brainchild of Diana Enzi, wife of Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming. In 2004, she heard about MLI’s Adopt-a-Dog Program and believed that if school children learned about the mine issue, had the chance to see a real MDD in action, and were offered the opportunity to affect change they would respond with a resounding YES!! She was right.
Diana led a CHAMPS Campaign across Wyoming which resulted in the first student-sponsored deployment of a highly skilled MDD to Sri Lanka. The dog, appropriately named Wyoming, “sniffs mines” and saves lives, a gift from the students of Wyoming to the children of Sri Lanka.
School children have taken advantage of the exciting opportunity and have joined other students around the nation by sponsoring their very own Mine Detection Dog or raising funds to help a landmine survivor. Schools, Girl Scout troops, and private families across the U.S. have joined in this incredible venture.