ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has added on to their already existing Blazer Academy in the hopes of providing mentorships to teenage girls.

The Sheriff’s Blazer Academy, Female Edition, had its first couple of classes this month. The academy focuses on providing positive life skills to assist the girls with being strong, trustworthy, accountable, resilient and successful while navigating through personal and professional life.

“We already have this program for young men, but we were able to now provide the same program to young women,” said ECSO Sheriff Chip Simmons. “We are very excited we are able to expand on this program and open it up to some of the young women in our area.”

Each two-hour session will include role-playing scenarios designed to develop interpersonal skills and confidence building that Simmons said is necessary for them to become the leaders of tomorrow.

“We have employees, both sworn-in and non-sworn-in to provide instruction in each of their individual expertise,” said Simmons. “The instructors for the male academy were our male employees and now we have our female employees being the instructors for our female employees. I did do a small program to open it up, but the instruction is mostly by our female employees.”

With the ages being 13, 14 and 15, when young women may be easily influenced, Simmons said there are ladies that can benefit from the program.

“There are some experiences that we have, either personally or from what we have seen through law enforcement, we can share with these girls,” said Simmons. “It gives the girls an opportunity for them to interact with our instructors. Our goal is to give them some insights that we would have liked to have known when we were teenagers. There are so many influences out there, and we want to make sure the influence they get at the sheriff’s office are positive.”

So far, participation has been great, according to Simmons.

“Even the attitudes from the first class to the second, you can see more of a familiarity,” said Simmons. “They are able to engage more and are asking a lot of questions that we hoped they would ask. It is very rewarding.”

The Sheriff’s Blazer Academy has 25 students per academy, and meet every Tuesday, from 5:30 p.m., until 7:30 p.m.

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