Kids get DARE'd

I recently attended Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) graduation ceremonies at Skaha Lake Middle School, and KVR Middle is set to celebrate next week. I was one of the dignitaries to congratulate the students along with School District 67 staff, Board of Education trustees and RCMP community policing members. Cpl. Lori Woods has been teaching the DARE program for the last 15 years in our middle school program to grade 6 students.

Four students were chosen to read their essay on what the DARE program taught them or stood for. I was impressed with their comprehension, candor and insight on drug awareness and abuse. Each talked about the negative effects of drug abuse and options to avoid going down that path. The kids are taught the DDMM (DARE decision making model) which applies to all aspects of life. Teaching kids about consequences of a decision or action is essential in shaping good future citizens.

I don't recall any DARE programs when I went to school. Drugs today are far more potent, addictive and dangerous compared to a generation ago. I used sports as my justification to not use drugs. If our team had a game, I could use that as an excuse not to attend a party the night before, and generally everyone accepted that and there was very little peer pressure. I think immersing our children in sports, cultural or community activities will not only enrich their lives, teach life lessons, but provide them a support network to combat negative influences.

I want to thank the RCMP for assigning members to each school, and along with Cpl. Lori Woods, showing kids that the police are cool, approachable and positive role models. This week starts a recruitment push for Community Policing volunteers. We are so happy to see Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth as the new Community Policing Officer and he regularly walks the beat downtown. He is tasked with helping build Citizens on Patrol, Speed Watch and work with Cpl. Jas Johal on bolstering a schools and auxiliaries program.

There have been several recent events that remind us of the importance our first responders, and in particular the police, of keeping our community safe. If there ever was a time to get involved, now is the time. Citizens on Patrol have had a tremendous impact, as they are the eyes and ears for the police and help implement some proactive policing measures. The Speed Watch volunteers help to remind the public about excessive speed in school and playground zones.

I have been on a ride-along with the RCMP, which was fascinating and gave me an appreciation for what they go through. Not everyone can be or wants to be a police officer, but I encourage you to consider giving back to the community and help volunteer with some community policing initiatives. When you see a police officer or firefighter, please thank them for what they do to help our community be a better and safer place to live. If you are interested in volunteering, please follow up and do so.