In Richardson, TX one group hopes to raise $40,000 for mine-detecting dogs. The faceless, silent enemy sits in a strange land thousands of miles away, says Bob Pittman, a writer. But students in Richardson’s Berkner High School CHAMPS program are doing their part to eliminate the deadly adversary, according to Pittman.
The students became aware of the land mine issue last year as ninth graders at Apollo Junior High School, Berkner teacher and Coach Scott Sellers said in a recent article. When the students and Sellers moved to Berkner this year they decided to continue their efforts, according to the article. “It’s turned into an important lesson in international civic responsibility,” said Sellers.
In January reps from the Marshall Legacy Institute in Arlington, VA traveled to Richardson to launch the CHAMPS program, featuring demos by Rosa, a land mine-detecting dog. Rosa, a dog like those deployed to Bosnia, indicated the location of a demonstration explosive recently during a session with Berkner students.
The nine-year-old institute, named for George C. Marshall, engineered Europe’s recovery from the devastation of World War II, trains and deploys the dogs. Perry Baltimore, president and executive director of the Marshall Institute, said that Apollo’s 2005 work was “the first fully involved program in which a school sponsored a dog on its own” according to literature.
“About 150 students are working on the project,” said Sellers. “The locally sponsored dogs will be Belgian Malinois, which resemble German shepherds.” Kimberly McCasland, Marshall Institute’s CHAMPS director went to Richardson with Baltimore two months ago. About 1.3 million people are threatened by land mines in the region, according to research.
“They have so little but the people are so glad that something is being done about the mines,” said McCasland of the Bosnians. “The human cost of mines is hard to fathom,” said Peter Dudley who has interviewed those injured by land mines. “In Cambodia many landmine survivors I talked to return every two years for replacement prosthetics which are often made by employees who are landmine survivors themselves.”
For information about The Marshall Legacy Institute go to marshall-legacy.org or call 703-243-9200.