Held on December 2nd, the North Oyster Elementary School D.A.R.E. Graduation was a particularly special day for Dedicated D.A.R.E. Officer, Cst. JoAnne Ruppenthal and her family. Cst. Ruppenthal of Ladysmith Detachment, who has been teaching the D.A.R.E. keepin' it REAL program around the province for almost 15 years, held a multi-class D.A.R.E. Graduation at North Oyster Elementary School.
Cst Ruppenthal's parents have always supported their daughter by attending all of her D.A.R.E. graduations as they reside in the Ladysmith area. This was a unique experience for her family as her son Joey was one of her D.A.R.E. students and class ambassadors.
As a class ambassador, young Joey created a poster with a story board to explain lessons he learned within the D.A.R.E. kiR program. The story followed Joey going to a party and being pressured to use drugs. Joey demonstrated a number of ways to resist these pressures by using the many tools provided to him by his D.A.R.E. Officer and parent.
The audience of students and parents were impressed with Joey's presentation and his ability to articulate the resistance strategies and communication skills he learned within the D.A.R.E. keepin' it REAL program.
The presence of Cst. Rupenthal's parents at the graduation ceremony, demonstrates the triangle of support between the Police, parents and schools. Educators and parents are able to see firsthand how a D.A.R.E. Officer and the lessons from the D.A.R.E. keepin' it REAL program empower youth to make healthy choices and make a positive impact in their community.
The Ladysmith D.A.R.E. keepin' it REAL program continues to support local youth due to the commitment of Community Champions. A member from the Kinsman Club of Ladysmith and a member of the Ladysmith Eagles Clubs were both present at the special ceremony, with both clubs donating a total of $1,500 to the program. The funds donated by both clubs goes towards learning materials for the D.A.R.E. keepin' it REAL students.
Thanks to the Kinsman Club of Ladysmith and the Ladysmith Eagles Club students will receive a 10 lesson workbook, pencil, name card, graduation certificate and D.A.R.E. T-shirt. These reminders keep the students engaged with what is being taught by their Dedicated D.A.R.E. Officer.
Story Submitted by Cpl. Dave Cusson
Strategic Prevention Services (SPS)
Vancouver Island District, Nanaimo