Middle District of Georgia Public Service Campaign Earns International Recognition for Social Impact
Middle Georgians Receive Telly Award Statuettes in Macon for “Armed with Knowledge”
MACON, GA (STL.News) Local honorees of an international media award—including a U.S. District Judge, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and the Executive Director of the Public Defender’s Office serving the Middle District of Georgia—were given the statuettes at a gathering held on Oct. 26 at the U.S. Courthouse in Macon.
“Armed with Knowledge” (AWK), a locally-produced video project aimed at educating young people on the consequences of illegally possessing a gun, was the recipient of two 2021 Telly Awards. Presented by the Peyton Anderson Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Georgia, Inc., AWK earned a Silver for Social Impact and a Bronze for Social Issues. The Telly Awards is a prestigious video and film industry event that recognizes excellence in video and television storytelling. This year, the organization received over 12,000 entries from 50 states and five countries. To learn more about the Telly Awards, please visit tellyawards.com.
“More than 4,800 middle school-aged children in Macon have experienced ‘Armed with Knowledge’ and our hope is that this powerful video and complementary facilitator’s guide will be presented to kids across the Middle District of Georgia and beyond,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Reducing violent crime cannot be achieved by prosecution alone.
As a community, we must help young people learn about the real consequences of choosing to pick up a gun so that we can stop violence from happening before it occurs. We are grateful for the support this public service project has received from the Bibb County School System and other youth-based organizations and churches. We are hopeful that more people will come to the table and take advantage of this free program for youth.”
“Armed with Knowledge’s message is not only impacting our local youth audience but is now recognized nationally for its powerful and purposeful message,” said Karen Lambert, president of the Peyton Anderson Foundation. “The Foundation is proud to partner with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia, the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Georgia, Inc., the Bibb County Public Schools and the Macon-Bibb Sheriff’s Office on this imperative social awareness and impact campaign.”
Researched, written and produced locally, AWK addresses the consequences of criminal activity. The video depicts the story of Noah, a preteen youth facing life-altering decisions that lead to illegal possession of a firearm, a federal crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years. Throughout the video, Noah learns hard truths and irreversible consequences through personal points of view from the perpetrator, the victim’s family and the federal court system.
“Representing the indigent accused for more than three decades has given me a front row seat to the devastating consequences young people—especially young men of color—endure when they make what might seem like a small mistake at the time,” said Federal Defender Tina Hunt, Executive Director of Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc. “My hope is that young people who view ‘Armed with Knowledge’ will make the same courageous choices Noah makes, and that we can even reach young people who have already made bad choices before they make more and suffer the life-long consequences.”
Since the video’s debut in 2020, it has been shown to thousands of Georgia youth, including 4,886 middle school students in Bibb County Public Schools. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia implemented AWK as part of its own Successful Tips for Youth on Law Enforcement Encounters (S.T.Y.L.E.) youth outreach program and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office has committed to utilize the program in its own youth outreach efforts.
The educational video and accompanying facilitator guide—created by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the assistance of Georgia teachers and counselors—is suitable for middle school-aged viewers and older, although educators can choose to present the video to older elementary school-aged children, as deemed appropriate.
The video is the brainchild of Peyton Anderson Foundation Trustee Marc Treadwell. Judge Treadwell is a U.S. District Judge, serving in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia since 2010. Filmed entirely in Central Georgia by Big Hair Productions, the video features local actors, as well as Judge Treadwell, Middle District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonja Profit and Christina “Tina” Hunt, Executive Director of the Middle District of Georgia Federal Defenders, Inc. It also features a powerful scene with Tonora Jones, the mother of Ta’Shuntis “Tootie” Roberts, who was lost to gun violence in Macon in 2015.
“Credit for these awards belongs to Ms. Jones’ and Tabitha Walker and her production team at Big Hair Productions. It is because of them that young people find Noah’s journey so compelling,” said U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell.
To watch the video, access the printable facilitator’s guide and learn more about the program, please visit ArmedWithKnowledge.org
AWK is the product of the joint federal, state and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.