Say ‘no’ to drugs Students complete DARE program

Say 'no' to drugs Students complete DARE program Vermillion Elementary School Principal Robert Bowker watches as Clay County Deputy Sheriff Paul Pederson presents a DARE diploma to fifth-grader Patricia Kirkie at the DARE program's culmination ceremony Dec. 18 in the Jolley School auditorium. by David Lias It was difficult to tell, by the end of Dec. 18's program marking the culmination of DARE training by Jolley Elementary fifth-graders, who had benefited the most.

All indicators appeared to show that the program has been a big boost to not only the students, but to their instructor, Clay County Deputy Sheriff Paul Pederson.

"Someone asked me about this, and I realized that if I can reach just one kid, it will be all worthwhile," he said.

DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a collaborative effort by DARE certified law enforcement officers, educators, students, parents and community to offer an educational program in the classroom to prevent or reduce drug abuse and violence among children and youth. The emphasis of DARE is to help students recognize and resist the many direct and subtle pressures that influence them to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, or other drugs or to engage in violence.

The DARE program offers preventive strategies to enhance those protective factors � especially bonding to the family, school and community � which appears to foster the development of resiliency in young people who may be at risk for substance abuse or other problem behaviors.

"You fifth-graders � you can be anything you want to be," Pederson told them after the students presented skits demonstrating ways to avoid drug abuse. "If you choose drugs, you'll close every door of opportunity. You'll ruin your life, and there's so much out there to live for."

Pederson said he is impressed with how much the students learned from the program. He urged the parents that filled the Jolley School Auditorium to keep the spirit and message of the evening alive.

"I want you to continue to talk to your kids about the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and violence," he said.

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