Pubdate: Tue, 29 May 2007
Source: Eastern Arizona Courier (AZ)
Copyright: 2007, Eastern Arizona Courier
Author: Jon Johnson, Assistant Editor
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Thatcher High School senior Mary Mendez saved money  earned from her
job as a hostess for Bricks restaurant  and donated $500 to the Drug
Abuse Resistance Education  program May 18.

Mendez said she was motivated to help the DARE program  because she
was helped by it after being exposed to  drug abuse by a family member
at an early age.

"The DARE program helped me realize that wasn't right,"  she said. "I
have a younger brother and a younger  sister, and I just wanted the
DARE program to be around  for all the kids."

It took Mendez more than a month to save the money.

Her actions inspired her father's girlfriend, Araunah  Crotts, manager
of the Red Lamp mobile home park, to  give $100 toward Mendez's donation.

"I think it's really good that she wanted to do it,"  Crotts said.
"There's so much stuff kids can get  wrapped up in these days; I think
it really helps to  have the program there for them. If it just
touches one  life, it still makes a big difference."

Thatcher Police DARE officer Everett Cauthen accepted  the $500
donation on behalf of the DARE program.  Cauthen has been the DARE
officer for Thatcher for 12  years. He said Thatcher High School was
the only school  in the Valley to have a DARE officer visit last year.

According to the official DARE Web site, its old-style  approach to
drug prevention in which an officer stands  behind a podium and
lectures to students is no longer a  part of its curriculum. Now DARE
officers are trained  as "coaches" to support kids who are using
research-based refusal strategies in high-stakes,  peer-pressure

New advances allow the children to see brain images of  how substances
diminish mental activity, emotions,  coordination and movement. Mock
courtroom exercises  teach the social and legal consequences of drug
use and  violence.

Mendez credits the DARE program and officers for  helping mold her
into the person she has become.

She graduated from Thatcher on Friday and plans to  attend the nursing
school at Eastern Arizona College.

"I've already started taking classes through the  college, and I'll
probably start the nursing program in  August," she said.
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