Charlottetown police rolls out new youth program to replace DARE

Published on January 19, 2016

FILE PHOTO: A photo taken in 2013 of Nicola Doncaster, left, and Ethan MacKay with Cpl. John Flood prior to their graduation from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education ( D. A. R. E.)  program at West Royalty elementary school. That program is now replaced with a more broadly based Healthy Me program presented by police officers to grade six students.

Healthy Me still covers drugs, alcohol abuse, but adds mental health, cyberbullying, social media components

A new program focusing on drug abuse and mental health, developed by Charlottetown police and student services workers, rolls out next week in elementary schools.

Healthy Me replaces the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, which taught Grade 6 students about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco use. DARE has been slowly shutting down since 2014.

The new program still covers the topics of drugs and alcohol abuse, but it also adds a mental health component. Also now included in the program is a cyberbullying and social media component.

"With DARE, it talked about drugs and how they affect your body, but we never really looked at the wellness component as far as mental health," said Charlottetown police Const. Tim Keizer, who is a school resource officer.

Keizer said the new Healthy Me programs asks young participants to ask themselves where they get their values and beliefs from and what are some of the outside influences on their lives.

"We talk about positive peers and negative peers and we get them to really, kind of look inside themselves and try to figure out who they are as people," said Keizer.

Student participants will receive prizes and T-shirts, as well as participate in a graduation ceremony similar to the DARE program.

The new program, though it covers more material, will be delivered in a much shorter time than the DARE program, with four classes instead of 10, said Keizer.

Five Charlottetown police officers have taken specialized training on the new Healthy Me program.

Keizer said the Charlottetown Y's Men Club and the City of Charlottetown continue as financial supporters of the former and the new program, which aims to assist youth.