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At the top of his game
Local man's invention goes statewide
4 CHAMPS Game pic2
Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten has created a children’s game that teaches the dangers of addiction. It soon will be marketed to schools all over Georgia. - photo by Frank Reddy Dawson Community News

A local law enforcement officer who rolled the dice with blueprints for a board game he invented may soon see his idea expand statewide.


Lt. Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office said schools across Georgia could use the learning tool in sixth- through ninth-grade courses.


The game, which Wooten created more than two years ago, teaches the financial, social and health aspects of living with an addiction. Students learn how the choices they make could have permanent effects.


Marketing the game in the state made sense to Wooten.


“We chose to start it here in Georgia,” he said. “One, because you’ve got to start somewhere, and two, because this is where it was developed.”


Wooten, who has taught “It’s Party Time, and it’s no game!” in local schools and churches for the past couple of years, said he mapped out the idea on his living room floor.


“I sat down with a colored pencil and drew it all out,” he said, adding that he wanted to liven up traditional anti-addiction lectures taught in classrooms.


“I wanted something hands-on,” Wooten said. “I wanted something the kids could have fun with.”


According to Sgt. Johnny Holtzclaw, the eight-week board game-style curriculum has accomplished that goal.


“It’s not just the old ‘chalk and talk,’” said Holtzclaw, who as a school resource officer helps teach the course on Dawson County campuses. “It’s an innovative way for these kids to learn the dangers of addiction.”


Wooten said it’s the first class he’s ever taught “where kids are yelling, ‘I don’t want to use drugs!’ by the end of it.”


He added that the game’s “realistic qualities” make it stick well in the minds of the children who go through the course.


“It’s like life,” he said. “Everybody knows somebody who has an addiction, and they know how that addiction controls a person’s life. We call it a game, but it’s more like a life simulator.


“My goal is to see this in the hands of kids and to see them have a good time and learn the lessons we want to teach them.”


Several months ago, Wooten took the game idea to The Passage Group, a company that helps parents teach children about the effects of drugs and alcohol.


Working with Wooten, the company refined the concept and plans to market the game on a nationwide level in the future.

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