An RCMP officer ‘captures’ the full attention of students

Vol 14, Issue 51 (Leduc-Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer)

In recent surveys, police have rated highly as one of the most respected and trusted group of professionals. So when an Officer in the traditional RCMP scarlet serge tunic, blue serge breeches featuring a bold yellow stripe, long shiny brown boots with jack spurs and brown leather gloves visited the Griffiths-Scott school, she easily captured the full attention and respect of the students. Admiration was very evident as this friendly Officer addressed the Grade V class in a smiling, warm, friendly manner.

Cst. Annie Starzynski was there to congratulate the Gr. V class on successfully completing the D.A.R.E.  (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. Cst. Starzynski and Griffiths-Scott teacher and school coordinator of the program, Hayley Snowden, presented each of the students with a certificate recognizing the successful completion of the 10 week course. Thirty one Griffiths-Scott students participated in the program.

This unique program sees specially trained RCMP officers deliver presentations to grades five and six students in schools throughout the Wetaskiwin region. The course addresses topics such as the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse; developing assertiveness and self confidence,  and dealing with violence, bullying and gang behaviors.  Gr. V and VI students are the chosen age group to take the course as it helps prepare them for the big step forward, entry into junior and senior high schools where they are most likely to encounter pressure to use restricted substances.

Grffiths-Scott teacher Haley Snowden coordinated the program and showed a great deal of gratitude for the role played by the RCMP. “We’ve had DARE at Griffiths-Scott for quite a few years now. The RCMP Officers were very upbeat. They came in once a week for 10 weeks and did a great job of opening the eyes of the students about how to make better choices and to know what is out there and how to avoid peer pressure. The students enjoyed the program.”

She went on to describe how the program reaches beyond the classroom. “We got rave reviews from the parents. They were saying their child is coming home and educating siblings and also asking the parents why they made the choices they made in their lives.”

In closing the presentation ceremony, Principal Frank Hendricks thanked Cst. Starzynski for an excellent job. “I can certainly tell as Principal that things involved by the DARE concept such as violence, drugs, tobacco and bullying have been impacted by the DARE program in our school.”

Drug Abuse Resistance Education  - the 10 weeks of DARE   

D.A.R.E is a social skills program.  Students use a four step decision making model to make healthy choices and take charge of their lives.

Define

What is the problem, challenge or opportunity? What is the decision about?

Assess

What are all your choices?  (Explore all options.)

Respond

Use all the information available to make a choice.

Evaluate

Was my response appropriate, respectful and responsible? Was it a good choice?  Why?

Lesson 1 - getting acquainted and outlining the expectations for the next nine weeks.
Lesson 2 - some basic facts about the harmful effects of tobacco products.
Lesson 3 - how advertising promotes tobacco use.  Some harmful effects of marijuana.
Lesson 4 - facts about alcohol and how it affects the body.
Lesson 5 - how the media influences people to use alcohol, some basic risks associated to inhalants, and positive alternative activities to drug use.
Lesson 6 - how to identify the qualities of a good friend. How to identify the best ways to respond to peer pressure.
Lesson 7 - learn and practise nine confident ways to “stay in charge of their life.”  They learn how to stay out and get out of risky situations.
Lesson 8  - learn how personal pressure can influence decisions regarding risky behaviour. Discuss the D.A.R.E. report and pledge statement they would prepare for the following week. 
Lesson 9 - practise the skills learned in the past eight D.A.R.E. classes. Students were assigned scenarios and used facts and positive alternatives to make healthy choices.
Lesson 10 – presenting award winning essays and receive recognition certificates.
There are many teachable moments in a child’s life. Take advantage of those moments to engage them in productive conversations about drugs. These conversations will assist your child to make healthy choices and stay in charge of their life.
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