The Summerland Child and Youth Committee would like to see an expansion of healthy choices and drug prevention strategies for children and youth in Summerland’s schools.
The committee is a community partnership made up of representatives from numerous government and community organizations.
“We need to cover the full grade spectrum,” said Sgt. Mona Kauffeld of the Summerland RCMP detachment.
The most visible program is the DARE program taught to Grade 6 students.
“The DARE program has been very successful in this community,” Kauffeld said. “We get a lot of positive feedback about it.”
For younger children, bike safety and stranger danger programs are also presented, while at the high school level, The Birthday Party, a presentation to Grade 10 students about the dangers of underage drinking was presented. In previous years, emergency workers have also staged a mock accident to show the potential dangers of impaired driving.
Cpl. Amelia Hayden of the RCMP’s Community Prevention Education Continuum, said community groups are being asked to help expand the programs so all grades are covered.
“There are still a lot of gaps. There’s still a lot of room for progress,” she said. “Unfortunately, there’s not very much at the high school level.”
She said most of the instruction will not be as intensive as the DARE program, which runs for one hour a week over 10 weeks.
“If a group or individual wants to become part of the solution, all they need to do is commit to one grade level to deliver or promote the drug prevention messaging,” she said. “If all youth get this unified message on a regular basis from all aspects of the community, their thinking and choices will change towards making healthy choices as an everyday way of life.”