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 36 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 ongoing in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. To date, 35 MDDs have been sponsored by children through CHAMPS! If you are interested in getting involved in CHAMPS, please contact us!
In 2015, MLI’s CHAMPS team gave presentations to thousands of students, teachers, and administrators in 35 schools, conducting dozens of simulated minefield demonstrations with MLI’s canine ambassador. In addition to sponsoring mine detection dogs, CHAMPS youth raised funds to help dozens of landmine survivors, providing them with prostheses, wheelchairs, and vocational training.
During the past five years, MLI has established CHAMPS projects in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Vietnam, and Yemen.
- CHAMPS teams in Afghanistan delivered Mine Risk Education presentations to more than 13,000 civilians living within a 10km radius of their villages.
- More than 250 landmine survivors have received prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, special walking canes, and vocational training.
- Nearly 100 landmine survivors and more than 80 women 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.
- More than 20 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.
CHAMPS: Bosnia Herzegovina
- In 2014, MLI launched a new CHAMPS project in Bosnia and Herzegovina that is designed to promote interaction between youth in the three majority ethnic groups: Bosniak, Croat, and Serb. It builds on previous CHAMPS projects and is working to develop tolerance and reconciliation between the ethnically and geographically diverse communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Not only does the program link American students with Bosnian students, but it is also connecting children within Bosnia and Herzegovina to help promote inter-ethnic reconciliation. Children attending a school in an area that is majority Bosniak are being linked with children living in other regions of the country that are majority Serb and Croat. The youth communicate on a regular basis via video messenger and are working together on service projects to help mine survivors in their communities. In 2015, weekend workshops were held throughout the year, which brought together the CHAMPS leaders from each of the three schools so they could meet each other in person and participate in activities that built trust and friendship. CHAMPS children worked together to identify and assist landmine survivors who are now receiving medical assistance and prosthetics through funds raised by American youth. Bosnian CHAMPS children also visited the homes of landmine survivors, befriending them and helping them around the house with chores.
- Three Iraqi schools, one in Basra, one in Baghdad, and one is Wassit participated in the CHAMPS-Iraq program during 2014.
- In 2014, nineteen young Iraqis received prosthetic limbs and rehabilitative care through the CHAMPS-Iraq campaign. Additionally, two survivors received wheelchairs and rehabilitative care.
- CHAMPS youth were trained in Mine Risk Education and traveled throughout Iraq and shared their knowledge with more than 5,300 Iraqis in the Baghdad, Basra, and Wassit areas.
- CHAMPS-Yemen began in September 2011 after the completion of a successful Survivors Assistance program in the country and has continued to be successful over the past four years. 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 in Yemen, and Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City, MD, Seven Lakes School in Katy, TX and La Vergne Lake Elementary School in La Vergne, TN.
- Dozens of landmine survivors have received prostheses and medical assistance through CHAMPS-Yemen and more will receive care in the coming months.
- Nearly 100 survivors have completed vocational training classes in computer training, carpentry, and sewing.
- Hundreds of students in Sana’a have received Mine Risk Education training.
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 have had the opportunity to travel with MLI staff to mine-affected countries. Students have been able to see their MDDs at work, meet government officials who oversee demining in that country, and had 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 200 lifesaving dogs. Meet our dogs, and the donors who made everything possible.
CHAMPS Celebrates its 11th 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.