Ben Charlie

DARE connects generations

More than 40 Grade 6 students completed the program at Ruth King elementary school, which has offered the program since 1998.

Alice Charlie sits in the Ruth King elementary school gym watching her 11-year-old son, Ben Charlie as he graduates from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. His 13-year-old brother, Dominic Charlie, sits with their mom.

Dominic graduated from DARE two years ago, and he knows first-hand the realities facing middle school students when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

“There is a lot of pressure,” Dominic said. “DARE makes it easy to say ‘no.’ It’ll help out my brother a lot.”

More than 40 Grade 6 students completed the program on May 17 at Ruth King, which became the first school on the West Shore to offer the program back in 1998.

The 10-week course was offered by RCMP Crime Awareness Service Cpl. Scott Hilderley. Students learned about the effects of tobacco, marijuana and alcohol, as well as the social tools needed to steer clear of them. Each student wrote a letter to their future self, reminding them the importance of staying drug-free, Hilderley will return the letters to the students in two years.

“I’ve been a police officer for 26 years. I have had fortunate and tragic duties. The more people I dealt with, I realized this guy or girl was once a little boy or girl in Grade 6. Before they knew it, they were meeting me in a way they didn’t want to,” said Hilderley who has been teaching DARE for 14 years.

Alice remembers being in Grade 6 and going through the DARE program as well. She grew up around alcohol and drugs, but never made it part of her life.

“I didn’t want that around my kids,” Alice said. “I am glad the DARE program is here. This, with proper parenting, will keep kids on the right path.”

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com