It’s was a big day for about 350 Grade 5 students in Saint John Friday —; a graduation day. The energetic students are all graduates from the the D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, program.
“DARE is a class that we take to learn about making the right decisions as we grow up,” said Lily Vanbeek of Millidgeville North School.
“I learned a lot in D.A.R.E. and had a lot of fun too,” said Ben Gordon of Lakewood Heights School. “I learned strategies I will use for my whole life. I’m glad I learned everything I did. I will never drink or smoke.”
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The D.A.R.E. program has been around the greater Saint John region for almost 20 years. A lot has changed since then and many question if the program has been able to change with it.
The answer is yes, if you ask police and school officials.
One of the elephants in the room is the impending legalization of marijuana in Canada. Const. Cory Jamieson is a former D.A.R.E. Coordinator and says when it comes, they’ll be ready.
“We combat already legalized toxins if you will, alcohol and tobacco, so we already battle those issues,” Jamieson said.
“We constantly try to upgrade and bring our ‘A game’ to the classroom.”
At the school district level, there is also confidence that D.A.R.E. remains very relevant today, with the inclusion of things like stress and bullying.
“Certainly these students, as I mentioned to them this morning, will have a lot of pressures as they get into middle school and high school and they have more tools now in their tool box to say the word ‘no’ or know how to handle that pressure,” said Zoe Watson, superintendent of the Anglophone South School District.
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Constable Jamieson says as far legalizing marijuana is concerned, students have written the prime minister asking to make tobacco illegal. He says they may take up that fight against marijuana.
The D.A.R.E program has been in place for more than 30 years and is now in place in schools around the world.