| Oct 02, 2008

Oct 2/08 - Sydenham Lions receive grant for DARE

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Feature Article - October 2, 2008 Sydenham and District Lions receive OPP grant for DARE programBy Julie Druker

Gardiner's Road A&P assistant manager Ron Wells presents a checque for $900 to Mayor Gary Davison with OPP Constable Natalie McDowell, and Sydenham and District Lions members Wray Gillespie and Allan McPhail.

Last week in Kingston at the A&P grocery store on Gardiners Road, Constable Natalie McDowell of the South Frontenac OPP detachment in Hartington and Ron Wells, assistant manager of the A&P, presented a cheque for $900 to the Sydenham and District Lions Club.

The funding for the grant was obtained through the sale of the magazine, “Not for Adults”, which was sold at all A&P, Dominion and Food Basic stores throughout Ontario.

The magazine is targeted to tweens and focuses on their culture but also covers other topics like health and bullying.

The grant is to be used to teach the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (DARE), a program in its fourth year that is taught at various elementary schools in Frontenac Township, including Storrington P.S., Perth Road P.S., Loughborough P.S., Harrowsmith P.S., Prince Charles in Verona and St. Patrick’s in Harrowsmith.

Constable Natalie McDowell explained, “The grant is completely for kids and is to provide prevention and awareness to youth.”

Cst. McDowell teaches the series of eight classroom lessons for youth in grades 5 and 6. The lessons focus on showing the students how to resist negative peer influences and how to live productive drug and violence free-lives.

The teaching materials include a booklet that outlines the negative affects of bullying, tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use. It also stresses the benefits of respecting other people’s choices and focuses on what defines true friendship.

Part of the grant will be used to purchase “fatal vision goggles”, goggles that the children can wear to show them what it is like to try to accomplish simple tasks (like throwing a tennis ball into a basket), while under the influence of alcohol.

“It really helps to bring the point home to them.” says McDowell.

The program targets students in grades 5 and 6 in the hopes of getting the message across them before problems start. At this age students can understand the issues and hopefully have not yet been pressured into using substances. Educators advised that waiting until grade 7 & 8 can be leaving it too late.

The Sydenham and District Lions Club have been on board with the DARE program since its inception in the community four years ago. The Lions specifically applied for the grant that was available from A&P to support the DARE program in the local schools in the area.

Gary Davison, Lions member and mayor of South Frontenac Township, commented, “We saw the potential (through DARE) to have some diversion…so why wouldn’t we be involved in that?”

McDowell admits that, “Not all OPP detachments are as fortunate to run the program. We’re really very blessed.”

The DARE program originated in the United States and spread rapidly to other countries.

McDowell enjoys teaching the program and believes that it is having a positive affect on the children it reaches.

Asked if drugs and alcohol are an issue in South Frontenac, McDowell replied, “No they are not and we’re hoping to keep it that way through prevention.”

She added, “I received a letter of thanks from a child who I taught who thanked me and said that the message got through. This is what makes it all worthwhile.”

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