Pubdate: Thu, 06 Mar 2003
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2003 The Western Star
Author: Michael Rigler


The local DARE program is gaining momentum.

Two officers from the Deer Lake RCMP detachment, Cpl. Scott Morrison and 
Const. Wayne Nichols, are in high demand thanks to their training as Drug 
Abuse Resistance Education instructors.

The popular international program gives children the skills they need to 
avoid the all too common pitfalls of drugs and violence.

DARE was created 20 years ago in Los Angeles. Since then it has spread 
across the U.S. and into 54 countries around the world. It consists of a 
series of police-led classroom lessons and activities from Kindergarten to 
Grade 12 which teach kids how to resist peer pressure and lead more 
productive lives.

Cpl. Morrison and Const. Nichols are currently working with Grade 6 
students at Deer Lake Elementary and Pasadena Elementary, but the demand 
for their services is growing. The pair are teaching six classes between 
the two schools and they'd like to see that number increase next year.

"There's a primary course for kids from Kindergarten to Grade 4, but we 
haven't approached the schools with that idea yet," Cpl. Morrison said. 
"The response has been excellent so far.

"We'd like to involve Grade 6 classes right through the district. There are 
a number of classes in (White Bay) we'd like to have covered as well. 
Unfortunately, we were a little bit late getting started this year. But 
we're hoping to cover all the schools next year."

Const. Nichols said the schools in the area have been quick to pick up on 
the program. And judging by the response of the children at one of the Deer 
Lake classes, so have the students. It's easy to see why DARE is the 
world's largest and most successful drug and violence awareness program. 
The Deer Lake Elementary students were clamouring to get in on the lesson. 
The most recent session centred around the theme of bolstering self esteem 
and self worth and the Grade 6 students couldn't get enough of it. 
According to Const. Nichols, school administrators feel the same.

"Last year the school had two DARE classes," Const. Nichols said. "But once 
they got a taste of the program the schools involved wanted to do more 

DARE also helps build a relationship between youngsters and police 
officers. Cpl. Morrison feels the opportunity to share a laugh while 
teaching kids some important lessons will pay off in more ways than one.

"A big part of the program is student participation," Cpl. Morrison said. 
"We interact with the kids and they interact among themselves.

"I think that's one of the reasons kids enjoy the program so much. It's 
also one of the reasons that they stop seeing us as just police officers. 
At first they can't get past the uniforms, but after a couple of classes 
they don't even see it."

This year's crop of DARE students will earn their graduation certificates 
in a couple of months. But the program doesn't end there. Cpl. Morrison 
hopes he and his colleague will ba able to work with the students as they 
make their way through high school.

"There is a junior and senior high DARE program as well," Cpl. Morrison 
said. "Hopefully one of us will be trained for the high school level 
courses so we can take this group of kids and follow them up through the 
whole school system ... that's one of the real benefits of the program."
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