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D.A.R.E. instills drug-free values in children

Published 9:54am Saturday, November 10, 2012

Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) has been helping Alexander City students make positive choices since 1990.

“The D.A.R.E. program makes a real difference not only with drug issues but also with peer pressure, bullying and stress management,” said Corp. Marcus Billups. “It helps to develop a trust factor and a rapport between officers and students in the community.”

Billups said the D.A.R.E. program has evolved to address current drug problems.

“Alcohol and marijuana have been around since I was a kid,” Billups said. “But there are a variety of things also out there now – things like prescription medications and synthetic marijuana. It’s so important we report the dangers of these things to kids and help them understand how it will affect their futures.”

Billups said one of the ways he reaches students is with his D.A.R.E. car – a vehicle seized in a drug raid and repurposed with D.A.R.E. graphics.

“It’s a teaching tool,” Billups said. “It shows kids dealing drugs is not the way to go. Sure, you can purchase nice things with drug money, but it can be taken away just as easily. The car sends a message that drugs are a dead-end road.”

Billups said funding from the United Way helps him purchase other materials to educate and motivate students.

“The United Way gives me the ability to purchase workbooks and rewards for students,” Billups said. “At the D.A.R.E. graduation each student is given a T-shirt and certificate. The United Way allows me to do that.”

Billups said he teaches the D.A.R.E. curriculum to approximately 300 Radney students a year, but because of community outreach efforts like Oktoberfest and church programs, he can share D.A.R.E.’s message with far more people.

“It can well impact thousands of people,” Billups said. “It’s very important.”

Billups said the work done by D.A.R.E. touches more than just students.

“I’ve had several students tell me their family members quit or tried to quit smoking because they shared with them what we learned in D.A.R.E.,” Billups said. “D.A.R.E. had an effect on someone in their family – that child helped someone just by what we talked about in class.”

For more information on the D.A.R.E. program, visit www.alexandercityonline.com/dare.

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