Pubdate: Sun, 19 Nov 2006
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2006 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Author: Tracy Harmon


CANON CITY - When Robin Basham was in fifth grade, her  parents were 
getting a divorce and she needed someone  to lean on.

The person she felt most comfortable talking to was her  teenage role 
model whom she had gotten to know through  Drug Abuse Resistance 
Education classes at school.

"I tended to cling to her. It was so cool to have  someone to talk to 
when I was lost and confused and I  could ask her, ‘Did I do 
this right?' " Basham,  now 14, recalls.

"Now I have a chance to make a big difference and I  want to do 
that," Basham, a DARE role model, said.

Basham, a Canon City High School freshman, has been  named Colorado's 
first-ever representative to DARE  International and her good friend, 
Krista Limitone, 15,  a sophomore, is an alternate.

After going through an intense selection process to win  the two-year 
appointment, Basham will begin a whirlwind  tour of travel and 
teaching, showing other DARE  officers how Canon City's DARE program 
has become the  most successful in the nation.

"These girls are advisers to DARE International and  Canon City is 
the only place in the U.S. that has role  models going to each 
class," said Neal Tyler, Canon  City DARE officer. "Colorado never 
got involved before  but these kids are going to run with it."

The girls kick off their responsibilities with an  appearance at a 
Denver Nuggets basketball game, then it  is off to Tennessee for the 
DARE International  Conference, where they will tell up to 3,000 DARE 
officers in attendance how the role model program  works.

"I want to help other kids, not just in Colorado,"  Limitone said.

Simply put, DARE prepares fifth-grade youth for the  inevitable 
occasions when their peers will pressure  them into trying drugs or alcohol.

"It gives them the confidence and ability to say no to  drugs. DARE 
prepared me when I got asked," Limitone  said. "This program teaches 
and educates you,  especially about the consequences of your actions."

It is solid students like Basham and Limitone who make  the DARE 
program successful, Tyler said.

"When I started this program 14 years ago, it was a  struggle to get 
six kids to apply. Now the all-time  record is 225 students who have 
applied and it is the  biggest service organization in the high 
school," Tyler  said.

Teachers like Mountain View Core Knowledge School  fifth-grade 
teacher Melissa Hammond see the first-hand  effect of the program. 
She said it goes beyond  preparing students to resist drugs.

"For me, it is so much help to have the peers  discussing, motivating 
and keeping the kids on task.  Their very presence is a very positive 
thing because  these kids look up to the high school students and see 
them being that person that makes good choices,"  Hammond said.

Both Basham and Limitone are involved in a lot of other  activities 
as well. Both girls are involved with their  church youth group as 
well as Destination Imagination.

Basham has a big part in the school play M*A*S*H plus  she plans to 
sign up for choir next semester. Limitone  is first-chair trumpet in 
the school band.

DARE International duties will keep the girls very busy.

"It's like a lot of work but a lot of work builds  character. I am 
honored to have it and I'm not going to  let anybody down," Basham said.

At the end of her two-year stint, Basham will have a  one in 50 
chance of getting a $20,000 college  scholarship.
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