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MLI kicked off its latest initiative - CHAMPs, Children Against Landmines Program, at the offices of Campbell, Crane & Associates. MLI Chairman Anthony Lake, members of Congress, US State Department officials and community members gathered to launch this innovative project to involve the nation's schoolchildren in fighting the global landmine problem. The pilot program for CHAMPS will begin in Wyoming in September 23. Mr. Perry Baltimore, Director Marshall Legacy Institute addressing the distinguished guests at the event. CHAMPS is a two-week educational and fundraising program designed to engage schoolchildren in the global effort to remove landmines. The program promotes awareness of the landmine problem and generates funding to provide highly trained dogs to severely affected countries. As Wyoming's children learn about the impact of landmines on threatened populations, CHAMPS will encourage them to TAKE ACTION and help others by sponsoring a lifesaving dog named "Wyoming." "Wyoming" will go to Sri Lanka along with an elite team of five other mine detection dogs to help Sri Lankans free their country of mines, restore land to productive use and allow the safe return of hundreds of thousands of refugees to their homes. In partnership with the U.S. Department of State, the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) and the Government of Sri Lanka, all Wyoming students (K-12) will have the opportunity to participate in the sponsorship program. MLI Chairman Anthony Lake, MLI President Perry Baltimore, Diana Enzi (wife of Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi) and Ambassador Devinda Subasinghe of Sri Lanka will visit Cheyenne, Casper and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, along with a mine detection dog team, to deliver landmine presentations and demonstrations at area schools. "I am so thrilled that Wyoming is the first state to participate in this national campaign where children will be helping children around the world," said Mrs. Enzi at the kick-off hosted by Jeanne Campbell of Campbell Crane & Associates. Brigadier Rohan Jayasinghe, defense attaché to the Sri Lanka embassy, explained how landmines continue to threaten the safety and stability of many in Sri Lanka as it emerges from two decades of civil war. In the past 20 years, an astonishing 700,000 to 1 million landmines have been laid in the ground. Many mines have been placed in heavily populated areas and fertile farmland. This has resulted in disastrous effects upon agricultural land, villages, roads, water resources, and livestock. In Chavakachcheri alone, one of the most ravaged villages, it is estimated that it will cost $3.2 million to clear the landmines. Specially trained dogs are one of the best detectors of landmines available in the field today. Carefully selected dogs sniff the odor of explosives and alert their handlers as to the precise location of landmines for removal. Some 700 dogs are working in 23 countries around the world, but many more of these wonderful animals are needed. Through CHAMPS, MLI will help satisfy this need. Notable guests included Senator and Mrs. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rep. Foley (R-FL), Rep. McDermott (D-WA), Rep. McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Neal (D-MA), and James Lawrence from the Office of Mine Action Initiatives & Partnerships at the US Department of State. For more information on the Marshall Legacy Institute, visit the website at www.marshall-legacy.org Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC USA 10 September 2003