The Road DAWG (Don't Associate With Gangs) is a one-week summer camp for middle school youth who are at risk of substance abuse or gang involvement. Three camps are organized and conducted by a coalition of providers, including the Police Department, the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, CSB Wellness, Health Promotion & Prevention, and Fairfax County Public Schools. The program's goal is to reduce gang violence.
Road DAWG was developed in 2004 as a weeklong camp at one site to address and prevent gang recruitment in neighborhoods identified through community meetings. The name “Road DAWG” came from an affectionate slang term for street officers. The camps, which serve at-risk youth, have expanded to three sites. The program also has been enhanced to incorporate ongoing follow-up and activities with the campers and their families throughout the year. Road DAWG is based on strategies proven to be effective in strengthening youth resilience and helping to prevent problem
The Road DAWG program:
- Connects kids with after-school programs in their schools and communities.
- Looks at individual and family needs and links to resources.
- Continues contact with youth and families.
- Includes follow-up activities throughout the year.
Road DAWG Activities
All activities during the week help participants understand the risk of problem situations, identify consequences of high risk behavior, identify community help resources, and develop action plans for the school year.
All of the participating agencies work together to achieve Road DAWG goals. These goals include:
- Educate and increase positive decision-making skills to resist: gang involvement, the use of violence for problem solving, and experimenting with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
- Provide youth with constructive alternatives to just “hanging out.”
- Promote career exploration.
- Introduce youth to programs and services offered in their community.
- Expose youth to recreational activities.
- Help youth build a stronger bond with their school and community.
Each day of the camp has a different focus. By the end of camp participants will be able to:
- Define risk.
- Identify two positive risk-taking situations.
- Identify two negative risk-taking situations.
- Define what is meant by “consequences.”
- Identify one possible consequence of engaging in the following: substance use, bullying, fighting, and gangs.
- Identify one person they could ask for help in their family, school and community.
- Identify two places they could go to for help in their neighborhood.
- Identify two new activities they would like to participate in during the school year.