Last week Sport was grumbling that his brothers and sisters have done tons of cool things and he wanted to accomplish something none of them had ever done before. It just happened that he had barely started the DARE program in his 5th grade class. DARE is a drugs/alcohol prevention program so I suggested that he could win their Essay Contest. None of his siblings had ever done that before and the winners even get prizes! We all know from his Chick-fil-A essay that he is an amazing writer, so this sounded perfect to me.
He was immediately interested so I suggested the most important part of trying to win would be to give it some time and not try to just throw it together at the last minute. That gave him about a week to get it done. He stewed over what to write and I finally threw out another suggestion, why not try to find someone with a sad story to tell.
So he did. He turned to the only person he knew who had used drugs in their youth, Gamer. The interview was short and sweet, but evidently it was enough, because yesterday when Sport came through the door, he announced that he had been chosen the winner from his class! Tomorrow is the DARE graduation so I will give you more details then, but for now, I thought you might want to read his award-winning essay. Drum roll please.....
My brother-in-law is from Texas. His way of life was different from mine and yours, and he didn’t have very many rules. He lived in a small town and he was mostly ignored by his parents, so what did he do? He turned to drugs. When I asked him what it was like, he said, “Drugs are not good for anyone.” He took more drugs than he could count, and he did it because he said he was a dumb kid with nothing else to do. Do you think he took DARE? No way! Most students in Utah do DARE in the 5th grade. DARE is when a police officer comes and teaches your class why not to do drugs. If you were wondering, DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. I have learned many things in this great program and I hope I can use them in my everyday life so I don’t wake up one day to find out I’m just a dumb kid like my brother-in-law.
There were many things that stood out to me in DARE. Some of them are things most people probably do not know, for example, mixing alcohol with medicine is dangerous. Another is that there are 75,000 alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States only. Alcohol also goes directly into the bloodstream. Tobacco is bad for you too. Many people do not know that there are more than 900,000 tobacco-related deaths each year, and tobacco interferes with the way the brain works. Smoking can cause lots of surprising problems also. It has 200 harmful known chemicals. It has the addictive nicotine chemical. Almost 50,000 deaths a year can be attributed to second-hand smoke. And these are only some of the things I learned in DARE.
DARE can help me in my everyday life. It taught me that it is OK to say “No!” if I am offered drugs. I can use strategies like avoiding the problems by walking away. I can even change the subject and try not to get stressed. I can also use DARE decision-making by defining, assessing, responding, and finally, evaluating my choices. I can use this model to help me make good choices.
DARE is very important. Without DARE, lots of grownups’ lives would be different. They would begin like my brother-in-law’s did, with drugs. He was fortunate to meet my sister and they married in 2004. They have some great kids now and a house and a dog. That’s because he wised up and got rid of the drugs. It’s too bad they didn’t teach DARE in Texas. Knowing how to make good decisions would have made his life much easier. Just like it will help me with mine.
Isn't he just awesome!!