Pubdate: Wed, 23 May 2001
Source: Stratford Beacon Herald, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Beacon Herald
Author: Sharon Malvern


Students at Juliet Senior Public School are Racing Against Drugs in 
an innovative program designed to give them a positive spin on a 
serious problem.

Targeted at students in grades 6-8, the program involves students by 
having them design and build model race cars which run on CO2 

Ron Sproat constructed a car from a kit, with his father's help, and 
decorated it with a cartoon of Homer Simpson.

"Sanding is the hard part," he said, but he and his friend Mike 
Butcher both think "it's cool" to make the cars.

About 40 students are involved at this point. Juliet is the first 
school in the district to adopt the program, a collaborative effort 
of the school and the Stratford Police service.

Derek Farr, an education assistant at the school, was inspired by his 
interests in car racing and art to contact his friends in the drag 
racing community with the idea of "giving kids a voice."

"Racing is a totally drug-free sport," he explained. "You can be 
involved as a driver, a fan, a mechanic."

Participants in the program link the fun of building and racing cars 
with the underlying anti-drug message.

"Drugs are more prevalent than most people think," said Deb Neeb, 
school liaison officer from the Stratford police. " Lots of drugs are 
available in the community and students are starting to use them at a 
younger age."

Ms. Neeb, who is frequently at the school, is aware that the "lecture 
method" of informing students about drug abuse has been overused. She 
is hopeful about the Racing Against Drugs concept.

"It's more in tune with kids - more hands-on," she said.

The program is in its initial stage at Juliet. By next year an 
education kit will be available. Organizers would like to get other 
schools involved, with the possibility of elimination heats, and then 
a final race day, complete with displays and trophies.

Juliet School has already demonstrated an interest in drag racing 
with a motivational assembly featuring racers Scott Wildgust and Brad 
Buhrow. Some students attended the national event at Grand Bend 
Motorplex (a sponsor) last year, and 120 kids plan to attend this 
year's race, June 1.

On June 14, Juliet will hold its first racing competition with the 
student-built cars, which can go 60 feet in a second.

Another program sponsor, Kevin Zimmer of Fram's K&K Race Team, has 
donated t-shirts to the participants. He is enthusiastic about the 
project, not only because it raises awareness about the sport, but 
also because the drivers can use the students' interest in cars to 
talk about safety and lifestyle issues.

Principal Stu Laing is "proud of all that's been accomplished." He 
believes that getting the students involved in racing is preferable 
to the "just say no" philosophy. And as an educator, he points to the 
connections with the curriculum in science and health.

This Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Racing Against Drugs will hold 
an event at sponsor Stratford Motor Products to raise funds for the 
program. A car wash can be had for a donation, and a snack (hot dog 
and a drink) is $2.

A special invitation is extended to owners of racing cars and classic 
cars to display their vehicles and talk to participating students.
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