June 15, 2014
I think educating young people (and older people as well) about how important it is to not get hooked on drugs is an extremely good idea. When my son and I moved to Salt Spring Island in the late 1990s, there was talk about drug pushers approaching the students in the Middle School to sell drugs for them. I think many people were relieved when the local RCMP made the decision to start teaching the DARE program on the island. As far as I know, the RCMP still runs the DARE program. Here is an article I wrote about it:
Gulf Islands Driftwood
December 1, 1999
DARE program aims to help students make better decisions
by Tanya Lester
Encouraging positive self-esteem and assertiveness can prevent young people from taking drugs, according to local RCMP Constable Jeff West who is beginning to teach the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) course this week.
The first 17-session course will be taught in teacher Elly Parker’s Grade 6 class at Salt Spring Island Middle School (SIMS).
The sessions get a what is behind taking illicit drugs. For example, one topic is about how the media influences young people in the use of drugs and violence.
Another is on building self-esteem which “helps students understand that self-image results from positive and negative feelings and experiences.”
“You’re shooting at helping kids make better decisions,” said West, who took the two-week DARE training course in Port Alberni.
Locally it is financially supported by the Salt Spring Rotary Club.
West said he will be dressed in uniform while teaching the course so students will recognize him and not be afraid to approach him if they see him on duty elsewhere.
“I know if I’m having a problem I feel comfortable enough to talk to Constable West,” is the result the RCMP officer envisions.
West said the course emphasizes cooperative learning in small groups and lots of role playing with all classroom students involved. There is a course workbook and students will receive a DARE T-shirt at a graduation event to which parents will be invited to attend.
West said Parker’s class is part of the French immersion program but he will be conducting the course in English.
SIMS students were selected to be the first to take the course because young people from across the island attend there, said West.
The RCMP wanted to impact a cross-section of Salt Spring’s children.
In addition, West will be giving talks to Fernwood School students from the kindergarten to Grade 4 level.
West expects the program to expand to the point that he will be giving a fall and spring session at one of Salt Spring’s schools each year. Another goal is to have more local RCMP officers trained to teach DARE.
West is well qualified to facilitate the course, having been a physical education teacher before he became an RCMP officer.
Prior to relocating here, he worked extensively with drug and alcohol problems in Surrey.
West said approximately 29 RCMP officers trained with him in late September. Most were from the Vancouver island-Gulf Islands region but officers from other parts of Canada also attended. Support money for the two-week training period came from MacMillian Bloedel.
Five Edmonton police officers taught the training course…
To read the earlier posts for this blog, go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or from amazon.com, where you can also read the first few pages of the book.