D.A.R.E. gets colorful help from community

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 26, 2000

Helping children remember to stay drug free can sometime take a little colorful help. So, in celebration of Newspapers in Education Week The Greenville Advocate, in cooperation with the Greenville Police Department's D.A.R.E. program and area schools and businesses, is publishing a coloring book to be distributed in Grades K4 -5 in all schools in the county to help children learn what they should do when confronted with drugs.

GPD's D.A.R.E. officer Mickie Griffin said the opportunity to be involved in this project gives the anti-drug campaign just another weapon to help fight the war on drugs for the area's children. If the lessons it teaches can help keep just one child from experimenting with drugs, Griffin said, then the project will be worth the effort.

Griffin, who has been the GPD's D.A.R.E. officer for two years, makes regular appearances in schools throughout the area. She teaches anti-drug classes in all fifth-grade classes in the county, but says more effort is needed to help continue to send out the message.

"Kids need outside reinforcement from the people in the community. They need to know we support them and want them to stay drug free," Griffin said. "This book will be a fun way that kids can learn the "just say no" message, and a good way for members of the community to show their support."

Griffin said that D.A.R.E., an acronym for drug abuse resistance education, is a national program supported by law enforcement organizations and schools, that works with students and teachers to help create a drug-free learning environment.

Griffin said the program consists of 17 lessons, on topics ranging from how to say no to the effects of drugs, that emphasize self esteem and resistance to peer pressure. She said the program teaches kids there are other activities besides drugs, and emphasizes the "golden triangle" between police, schools and parents to make sure each child gets the opportunity to grow up in a healthy, happy and drug-free environment.

"When everyone works together we can show kids that they don't have to do drugs to have fun," she said. "And it shows them that more people support them staying drug free."

Project coordinator Susan Rhodes, advertising manager for The Greenville Advocate, said the project not only allows the newspaper to become actively involved in education, but also gives area businesses the opportunity to show support for the anti-drug message in our local schools. Rhodes said a limited number of sponsorships are available for the project, and interested businesses should contact her for details.

"This will be a huge opportunity for area businesses to show their support for the children of our community," Rhodes said. "And, it will be a fun way to reinforce the "just say no" message in our schools.

"There are other projects available in the D.A.R.E. program as well and I hope we can help aid their efforts now and in the future," she continued. "I really think sponsors, parents and students alike will be pleased. Everyone will benefit from this project."

Paul Hopper of Greenville Ford was one of the first business leaders in the area to provide support for this project. He said he hopes community involvement will send a strong message to the youth and parents of

the community that drugs are a dead-end street.

"We believe in our children and want the best for them," Hopper said. "As parents and business people it is our responsibility to let our young people know we're behind them."