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 fundraise 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.
To learn more, particularly if you are a student or teacher interested in getting involved in CHAMPS, visit our CHAMPS Zone!
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,” a retired mine detection dog, 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 $700,000 and sponsored an impressive 38 Mine Detection Dogs.
In the past year, MLI’s CHAMPS team gave more than 100 presentations throughout the U.S., exposing more than 10,300 American students and teachers to the program, and inspiring 3 new MDD campaigns and multiple survivors’ assistance campaigns that helped 9 mine survivors. Thirty-one U.S. schools were actively engaged with CHAMPS, and 38 international video calls took place between American youth and peers abroad.
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. Learn more about CHAMPS projects in these countries here.
CHAMPS campaigns are currently ongoing in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. If you are interested in getting involved in CHAMPS, please contact us!
In many cases, student leaders who have led CHAMPS campaigns are nominated by their teacher to visit Washington, D.C. and attend MLI’s annual “Clearing the Path” Gala. The Gala offers an opportunity for student leaders and teachers to learn more about our work, meet other honorees, and tour the nation’s capital during their stay. While we are pleased to provide complementary Gala tickets to CHAMPS student leaders and teachers, we are unable to assist with travel or accommodation costs.
Student leaders and teachers from CHAMPS campaigns also have had the opportunity to travel with MLI staff as members of donor delegations to mine-affected countries to see their sponsored Mine Detection Dogs at work, meet government officials who oversee demining operations, and interact with the host country’s CHAMPS leaders. Donor delegations must bear the cost of travel expenses.
Through individual and corporate sponsorship MLI has purchased, trained and delivered over 200 lifesaving dogs. Meet our dogs, and the donors who made everything possible.
CHAMPS Celebrates its 14th 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.
CHAMPS was expanded to other schools in the United States through the vision and leadership of Betsy Parkinson. Betsy, beloved wife, mother and grandmother from Greenwich, CT, first learned about CHAMPS in 2005 at MLI’s Clearing the Path Gala and launched the first CHAMPS campaigns in northeastern U.S. in 2006 in Greenwich and Stamford, CT. Over the last 13 years Betsy’s CHAMPS program has been embraced by 28 schools across greater Fairfield County, CT. With Betsy’s passionate leadership, joined by the enthusiastic determination of teachers and administrators at the CHAMPS Schools in CT – the schoolchildren have raised more than $160,000 to send 13 highly trained Mine Detection Dogs to 5 countries. Further fundraising has helped provide Mine Risk Education and prosthetics and wheelchairs for young landmine survivors – raising more than $200,000. These incredible kids have inspired private donors and foundations to donate so much more to support MLI and the CHAMPS CT program!