Theres a new plan in place to help empower students to choose a drug-free life.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) keepin’ it REAL (kiR) Program recently received a total of $500 from the Royal Canadian Legion Windermere District Branch #71 and the Rotary Club of Invermere to help 56 Grade 5 students avoid using recreational drugs.

“From the Legion’s perspective, we’re supporting the development of youth in the community and we do it through a number of programs,” said Royal Canadian Legion Windermere District Branch #71 president Ken Carlow. “In a nutshell, the Legion supports the youth in the community for the betterment of the community as a whole and to develop more responsible citizens within the community.”

The Rotary Club could not be reached for a comment before The Pioneer went to press.

DARE is an internationally recognized drug prevention program that began in Prince George more than a decade ago. It is a self-awareness and management program that helps Grade 5 and 6 students in B.C. make responsible decisions through a socio-emotional learning theory that helps each person identify basic skills and processes to face challenges in their lives with clean minds.

“The new D.A.R.E. kiR Program encourages youth to be exemplary citizens and to help others in need, said Staff Sgt. Anthony Choy in a press release. Mr. Choy is the provincial co-ordinator of the Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service (DOCAS) which oversees the Invermere DARE program. The program also covers topics such as peer pressure, stress, communications, bullying and the decision-making model.”

The DARE program is based on a decision-making model that breaks down a problem youth might be facing into steps using the acronym D.A.R.E, where they have to define what the problem is. It provides life skills that focus on providing accurate information about drugs, alcohol, tobacco and resisting peer pressure.

There are roughly 100 police officers teaching DARE to thousands of children throughout B.C.

“Community donations ensure our children will be equipped with the critical thinking and life skills necessary to choose a drug-free life and fund the $12 cost of learning materials per student,” said DARE BC Society president, Colin Grant, in the press release.

He credits both the the Royal Canadian Legion Windermere and the Rotary Club of Invermere for their support.

“We are very grateful for their generous donations which cover the cost of learning materials for 41 students who took the program during the 2014-2015 school year,” said Mr. Grant.

Next years DARE program begins this September and DARE BC anticipates more than $700 will be required to cover the cost of learning materials for students to continue taking the program.

To make a donation, contact DARE BC Society partner relations manager Chantal Broughton at 778-290-2029 or email dare@darebc.com. For more information about the DARE program, visit www.darebc.com.