This year millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence.
The Grand Rapids Police Department and the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office partner every school year with the Grand Rapid School District to get Officer’s in the classroom’s to instruct and teach the DARE program to every 5th grader that attends the Robert J. Elkington Middle School in Grand Rapids. Currently there are ten 5th grade classrooms with an average of thirty students per class. Each of the DARE Officers instructs two classes. Currently the DARE Officers are Grand Rapids Police Department members Sgt. Heath Smith, Ofc. Jeremy Nelson, Ofc. Justin Edmundson, School Liaison Ofc. William Saw, and Itasca County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Provinzino who serves as the Itasca County DARE coordinator.
The DARE program is a ten week based course and includes instruction in some of the following topic areas: Decision Making Skills, Positive and Negative Consequences to Choices we make, Responding to Pressure and Peer Pressure, Conflict Resolution Strategies, Signs of Stress and Positive Stress Relieving Techniques, Effective Communication Skills, and proper ways to Handle and Report Bullying. At the end of the ten week DARE program there is a culmination ceremony held at the Middle School and every year all DARE graduates have the opportunity to attend a Twins Baseball game as part of the annual Itasca County 5th grade DARE Twins Game Field Trip. Every year there is a DARE Spaghetti and Fish Sandwich Fundraiser held in town to help support the DARE program and help support this wonderful opportunity for our local youth to attend a Major League Baseball Twins Game in Minneapolis, MN.
DARE also serves another purpose in supporting a strong and healthy community. The DARE program strengthens community ties between the schools, parents, students, and local police officers. The DARE program gives the opportunity for Officer’s to give back to the communities which they serve by being in the school to help guide, teach, and interact with students which is imperative in building rapport with local youths. This ideal can be in invaluable tool when it comes to crime prevention and solving crime within a community.
If you have any questions or inquires about your DARE program you can contact your local DARE Officer or you can head to http://www.dare.org