Public Information Officer
PROJECT HARMONY EARNS STATEWIDE CRIME PREVENTION AWARD
A Volusia County-based program to combat juvenile crime and conflict on school campuses was honored Thursday night with a statewide crime prevention award. Launched a decade ago at DeLand Middle School, Project Harmony was named the recipient of the Florida Crime Prevention Association’s 2003 Outstanding Crime Prevention Program of the Year Award. The award was presented Thursday night during the association’s annual training conference in Altamonte Springs.
“Project Harmony provides a unique and vital program to reduce school violence,” said Sheriff Ben Johnson, one of the many partners that works to bring the program to approximately 1,200 middle school students in Volusia County every year. “We’re very proud that Project Harmony and the positive impact it continues to have on our youth was recognized by the Crime Prevention Association. This is quite an honor, and one that is well deserved.”
Project Harmony is a juvenile crime prevention program that combats school violence by emphasizing leadership skills, cultural diversity and conflict resolution training. The program is a unique cooperative venture between the Sheriff’s Office, Volusia County School Board, the Sheriff’s Youth Camp, Stetson University and the West Volusia Police Athletic League. The centerpiece of the program is a series of week-long retreats where students are confronted with cultural diversity issues and challenged to work together to improve their school environment. Conflict resolution and leadership training are reinforced with challenge course activities that encourage cooperation and problem-solving.
“Project Harmony continues to flourish and show an increase in popularity,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Bob Lambert, a co-founder of the program who was on hand Thursday night to receive the award. “Evaluation research demonstrates the positive impact the program has had on its participants and the overall middle school environment.” Also on hand to receive the award Thursday were: Ormond Beach Middle School Principal Bill Walden, who helped develop Project Harmony; Bill Frye, Vice President/Programs at the Sheriff’s Youth Camp; and Phil Shults, the Youth Camp’s Director of Camping Services. John Carassas, Florida’s Deputy Attorney General, delivered the keynote address.
Project Harmony has garnered numerous awards and recognitions over the years. It was recognized by the Florida Department of Education as a Student Services Model Program, earned awards from the National Association of Counties, the American Camping Association and the National Police Athletic League and also was singled out as a “Promising Practice” by the President’s Initiative on Race.