DARE program aims to inform kids of dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco

  • Feb. 16, 2010 12:00 p.m.
RCMP Const. Daniel Kenny teaches the DARE program to students at the Rimbey Christian School.

RCMP Const. Daniel Kenny teaches the DARE program to students at the Rimbey Christian School.

Staff

For the second consecutive year, Const. Daniel Kenny will head back to school.

No. It’s not like he failed to complete Grade 12 but rather, Kenny will teach Grade 6 students throughout the area the DARE program, an acronym for Drug-Abuse-Resistance-Education.

“The DARE program has been going on for some time in Rimbey. This is my second year teaching it after taking over from (retired officer) Bill Coulthard,” Kenny said. “Last year I taught two classes at the Rimbey Elementary School and a class at the Bluffton School and this year I’m teaching four classes – two at the elementary school, one in Bluffton and new to the DARE program this year is the Rimbey Christian School.”

While the program relies heavily on informing students of the dangers of drug abuse and all the other negative issues associated with it, the program also touches of other potential evils that could also result in some serious health consequences.

“The DARE program is intended for the Grade 6 level and it’s about drug awareness. We talk about the different kinds of drugs and we try to focus on the drugs in the community when we teach,” Kenny said. “We also talk about alcohol and tobacco with the big outline of the program being to help kids make healthy choices.”

And whether society chooses to accept it or not, the reality is that drug dealers have begun to target the youth of today as their meal tickets of tomorrow including practices such making ecstasy tablets look more and more like candy while applying eye-appealing, kid-related cartoons and logos including Bart Simpson and Nike.

“I bring in a lot of photos and things to show them so they get an idea of what to expect and know what it is because they’re going to come across this kind of stuff as they grow up and it’s good for them to have an idea of what it looks like so they can stay away from it,” Kenny said. “A big part of the program too is we focus on learning how to say ‘no’. We teach classes on the ‘Seven Ways to Say No’, so the program is about stuff like that and helping the kids get out of certain situations such as peer pressure. We also talk about violence and bullying and everything like that.”

As for the teaching itself, Kenny said it makes for a nice break from the dark side of his policing duties while providing a break for teachers as the DARE program has been integrated into the health curriculum in the schools where he teaches.

“I enjoy it very much. A lot of time at work we’re dealing with the bad people so it’s nice to go to the schools and deal with good kids and see that side of it,” Kenny said. “It’s a nice break from the stress of things. It’s a lot of fun. Often times, we might deal with the sort of troubled kids and they’re often the ones who see us the most and they’re the most comfortable around us. So when we go to the schools, they’re the ones waving and saying ‘hello’ to us, so it’s good that way.”

Due to the classroom structure at the Rimbey Christian School, Kenny will also teach some Grade 5 students the 10-week program that sees every student receive a certificate and DARE T-shirt during a small graduation ceremony. And whether the students are in Grade 5 or 6, they are, for the most part, at the ideal age for the program.

“They’re old enough to start wondering about this kind of stuff but they’re also at the age where they’re still not ‘too cool’ to deal with adults and that’s the way I find it,” Kenny said. “When I go into the classroom they’re all excited to see me and a lot of them just want to get to know the police.”

As an assistant coach with the Rimbey peewee Red Coats hockey team, Kenny said many of his players are in Grade 6 and the connection has made teaching the DARE program much smoother for him and the students and has been reflected in the form of positive feedback from parents of students in the program.

“We get a good bit of feedback,” Kenny said. “I think the teachers enjoy it because they get a bit of a break but there’s a lot of people in town seem to really like the program and I haven’t heard anything negative about it.”

Generally, funding for the DARE program is based on public and corporate donations.