Ladysmith students daring to say no to drugs

The Ladysmith RCMP is taking a proactive approach to educating kids about drugs and alcohol.

Const. Jo Anne Ruppenthal and the DARE car paid a visit to three local schools participating in the DARE program on Nov. 25. Ruppenthal is a certified DARE officer with the Ladysmith RCMP detachment and is currently administering the program to students at Ladysmith Intermediate

It’s a subject that some parents don’t like to broach with their children, but the Ladysmith RCMP is taking a proactive approach to educating kids about drugs and alcohol.

Students in Grade 5 are currently participating in the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, a 10-week curriculum that will teach them facts about marijuana, alcohol and inhalants. They’ll learn about self esteem, the value of friendships, and making good choices by using the Define, Assess, Respond, Evaluate decision making model.

In the coming weeks, Grade 7 students will receive an advanced curriculum that focuses on social pressures, targeted marketing and refusal strategies such as ‘Keeping it REAL’ (Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave).

“Ladysmith is one of the few communities in B.C. that’s going to get both curriculums,” said Cpl. Dave Cusson RCMP drug and organized crime awareness co-ordinator, Central Island. “We’re very happy about that.”

Ladysmith RCMP Const. Jo Anne Ruppenthal is a trained DARE officer and spends one hour a week with each class administering the program on top of her other duties with the detachment.

“In a small town like this, a lot of kids feel like they’re bored and they don’t have anything to do so they get into bad or risky behaviour,” she said. “Giving them the tools at this early stage so they can practice it at a low level risk before they enter high school is a great opportunity.”

While she doesn’t think drugs are an issue with youth in Ladysmith, it is an unavoidable fact that they are everywhere, Ruppenthal said.

“It could be inside the home, it could be outside the home at a corner store with friends,” she said.

She added a lot of kids are not aware of the consequences that come along with substance use.

“If a child chooses to try drugs… it’s a choice they should be educated about and the consequences for making that choice,” she said. “Their first time could be their last time.”

The DARE program is a foundational part of the RCMP’s community prevention education continuum which focuses on K-12.

“Our drug prevention strategy involves all the community,” Cusson said. “We realize as a police force we can’t do it all, we require the community to help and we’re finding in our research that the more people involved in drug prevention throughout their K-12 years, the more apt they’re not going to be involved in addiction or usage.”

Cusson encouraged local organizations, parents, PACS and other concerned citizens to get involved with drug awareness education in the community.

For more information on the DARE program, visit www.rcmpda.com and www.darebc.com.

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