How do you get kids excited about this? By developing their awareness of the importance of self-esteem. By presenting strong messages of “Great Expectations” in two-hour entertainment spectaculars featuring clever, original songs, clowns, skits and successful role models delivering esteem-building messages the kids can relate to.
Success of the program is obvious. With its first effort in a hotel ballroom (500 youngsters), ENVIRO-COPS extravaganzas subsequently have rocked the walls of Miami Arena (with 14,000 Dade County Public School students) and the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami, where 5,000 second-through-sixth graders, in the process of becoming leaders, took the ENVIRO-COPS Oath. ARISE Foundation provided membership and pledge cards, “Environmental Alerts”, flyers, posters and ongoing educational programs at absolutely no charge to students.
The ENVIRO-COPS’ stunning success also can be attributed to partnerships the Bensons have developed with school system administrators, principals, teachers, students and every aspect of the Metro-Dade government. Metro-Dade Police Department’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund awarded ARISE Foundation/ENVIRO-COPS $15,000 in 1991 to further its work, followed by a $60,000 grant for an ENVIRO-COPS comic book to teach 100,000 children that “Drugs and crime are a waste of time”. In addition, County Commissioners authorized $75,000 for a school system coordinator of the growing project and for the 3rd Annual Great Expectations Awards presentations. ENVIRO-COPS also have the complete support of the County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management. DERM’s Director, John Renfrow is the top ENVIRO-COP. Even Vice President Al Gore put on an ENVIRO-COPS badge during a 1992 visit to Miami.
From the birth of the ENVIRO-COP concept, Attorney General Janet Reno (then Dade County’s State Attorney) played the role of mentor. Without the help of this exceptional woman, ENVIRO-COPS would have been just another good idea.