PANS in the community POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 13 D.A.R.E. program wrapping up around Island schools Y’s Men make significant donation to make sure Island children learn important message It wasn’t a typical Grade 6 graduation at West Royalty Elementary. That one is still to come. These 62 students were graduating from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. Offered to students in all Charlottetown-area schools by the Charlottetown Police Department, the program gives kids the skills and knowledge they need to avoid involvement with drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. School principal Ken Gaudet said the program was introduced to West Royalty students four years ago. “It’s an awesome program. We’re really glad to be able to facilitate it again this year. They talk about alcohol, tobacco and drugs and the harmful effects these substances have on your body, as well as the tools that you can develop within yourself to resist temptations or offers,” he said. Cpl. John Flood, the officer who co-ordinates D.A.R.E. in city schools, says the education component of the program is important for students at this age. “It’s extremely important, it’s priority number one to get that safe message out there, to give them some skills to help deal with probable temptations that might come in the future.” The program gives students awareness about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, said Flood. Nicola Doncaster, left, and Ethan MacKay with Cpl. John Flood prior to the graduation from D.A.R.E. program recently at West Royalty Elementary. Guardian Photo By Bo Ford, The Guardian “It teaches them how to avoid situations that tempt people to try them, the danger of addictions and what a substance can do to your body.” Flood gives the presentation to over 350 Grade 6 students a year. The students do a lot of practicing with skits in the classroom, write essays and have conversations about drugs. Gaudet said he’s had past students come back to the school and tell him how much the program has benefited them. “They have come back to tell us it has helped them, that they’ve been in situations and had the tools to say no. That’s encouraging for us,” he said. “Being able to have these conversations as an 11- or 12year-old was helpful to them as they went through their different school years in junior high and high school.” It’s not just the education on drugs that is good for students, said Gaudet. “Something else that is really valuable is the relationship they develop with the police officer. Corporal Flood is more than someone just driving around in a car, they see him as a friend, someone who really cares for them.” The program would not be possible without the help and support of the Charlottetown Y’s Men’s club. “School funds are limited. If we don’t have the sponsorship of the Y’s Men, I don’t believe the program goes because there are no dollars in education right now for that,” said Gaudet. The Charlottetown Y’s Men contributed $3,000 to the D.A.R.E. program as part of the graduation celebrations in West Royalty. Earl Foster of the Y’s Mens club said the D.A.R.E. program is one they will continue to support. “Our goal is young people. This program is set up for children in Grade 6, so this is one of the contributions we make every year. It covers a good portion (of the cost), but still they would want to have more support financially.” Gaudet said he would like to see a program of this sort brought through the junior high system as well. “There would have to be a new program, this one wouldn’t be effective as the kids are at a different place in their thinking. If there was some program that could be used. I can’t see how it wouldn’t be helpful.” The students all received a T-shirt and D.A.R.E. certificate for their efforts in the program.