Say the word DARE to a grade five students in Lillooet's two elementary schools, and they will tell you what it means - Define, Assess, Respond, Evaluate.
The children at George M. Murray and Cayoosh Elementary are being taught the DARE prevention program by Constable Kerry Whitbread from the Lillooet RCMP detachment.
"It's a 10-week program so I go into the schools once a week and teach the kids on a wide variety of stuff," explained Whitbread. "The focus of DARE is all about resisting drugs and violence."
The DARE BC website (darebc.com) notes "the program goes beyond drug abuse prevention and 'just say no' programs. DARE programs provide children with an effective model for making wise and healthy decisions throughout their lifetimes."
"When we talk about drugs we are not just talking about illegal drugs, we're talking about tobacco and alcohol," Whitbread said. He explained the students do learn about marijuana and cocaine as well as violence, bullying, etc.
The hour long lessons consist of Whitbread discussing the week's topic with the students, using workbooks, individual and group participation, as well as a bit of homework. Each week parents receive a letter keeping them up to date on what is being taught.
"Hopefully their parents will piggyback off of what we talked about that week," said Whitbread. "It kind of helps the discussion start."
"It gets interesting if parents smoke because then it's like 'why do you smoke, these are the bad things' so it's all about trying to help the kids resist it and ultimately make it a healthier and safer community for everybody," he added.
Whitbread first taught the program when he was stationed in Stewart, BC. "There was an opening available and somebody had to step up and do it," he said. By the time he started working with the DARE program, Whitbread had already been working with school aged children for five years. "It just seemed like a natural thing for me to go into," he said.
DARE prevention programs are taught to more than 30,000 students in all regions of BC.