Richland One launches male role model initiative, looking for volunteers


A new initiative at Richland School District One hopes to provide more positive male role models for students.

The new initiative is called R1 CHAMPS, which stands for Caring Hearts And Making Positive Shifts.

Richland One’s Dropout Prevention Coordinator Kerry Abel, says research shows that having more male role models on school campuses can lead to higher attendance rates and lower dropout rates.

“Our goal is to have positive men from around the city on our campuses to show our young people that they believe in them. We know that they’re champs, we know that they’re great and we know that great things will come from our kids. And that support comes from us as a village,” Abel says.

Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon says the R1 CHAMPS will assist teachers as needed and be available during class changes and lunch breaks.

Dr. Witherspoon believes small interactions will create a big influence in the lives of students., saying, “Whether that’s in the morning, when school starts, high fiving, ‘Hey! How’s it going? Looking sharp today. Way to go! Let’s make it a great day.’ Whether it’s at lunch going, ‘Yea I remember when we had that pizza.’ And even in the afternoon, ‘Hope you had a great day. Let’s come back tomorrow and do it again.”

Jaquan Riley is one of 39 volunteers who have already signed up for the program.

“To say, ‘Hey, I have someone that I can relate to, or I can trust, or I can open up to. Which then continues to break down those barriers. Which in return gives them a better success rate in their education and their career after that,” Riley says.

According to Abel, all volunteers will go through a background check from SLED and the Department of Social Services.

If you’re interested in being an R1 CHAMP, you can call Mr. Abel at 803-231-7182 or fill out the district’s form here.

The program begins January 18th.

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