Students in grades 5 and 6 at Duncan Cran Elementary have spent the last 10 weeks in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or D.A.R.E. for short.
The substance-abuse prevention program teaches students how to handle and deescalate potentially harmful situations involving drugs, alcohol, or risky behaviour.
For the last 5 years, Cpl. Jodi Shelkie with the Fort St. John RCMP has been helping operate the program at Duncan Cran, and also at Ecole Central.
The program is usually taught to students in grades 5 to 6 around the age of 11, as Cpl. Shelkie says the program teaches students about making the right decisions; not just in saying ‘no’ to drugs, but knowing how to react when they are asked to engage in potentially dangerous behaviour.
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“There’s always a better choice than doing drugs, or doing something illegal, or doing something that could hurt yourself.” she said. “D.A.R.E. is really all encompassing, it’s about knowing more than how to say no to drugs.”
With Cpl. Shelkie standing by their side, each class re-enacted situations and what you should do in each situation. A group of students also prepared speeches to read about what they learned through D.A.R.E.
“They need it hear it at home, they need to hear it at school, in the community, from police officers, and this is just one more message — one more way to get that message: Don’t do drugs.”
And the message seems to be heard — as Cpl. Shelkie recalls various parents telling her that their children who have graduated from D.A.R.E. were hounding them for drinking wine or smoking.
Dan Davies’ grade 6 class was involved with D.A.R.E. this year, and he said his students couldn’t be more enthusiastic about it.
“Leading up to it, they’re always asking, ‘Do we have D.A.R.E. this week?'” he said, adding that the students were eager to ask Cpl. Shelkie a variety of questions — from her service with the RCMP, to questions of how to react in certain situations.
Today was also Cpl. Shelkie’s last day with the Fort St. John RCMP, where she acted as the media liason officer.
Many students showed their appreciation by giving her gifts and warm goodbyes as the ceremony came to a close.