By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Richland County Sheriff’s Dept. (RCSD) and the RCSD’s D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program made history last week with what officials say is the first-ever D.A.R.E. graduation in a Muslim school, nationwide. The ceremony, held at the Islamic Academy of Columbia, Fri., May 19, also marked the first such graduation in the first American Muslim school in which D.A.R.E. was formally introduced and established.
“The Richland County Sheriff’s Dept. is not only responsible for serving and protecting all citizens in our diverse communities, but we are equally committed to education and outreach,” says Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. “And together with D.A.R.E., we are striving to help all of our children learn how to make good decisions.”
Maj. Stephany Snowden, RCSD’s director of Community Initiatives, says, “Encouraging our young people to make good choices and to take a stand against drugs and alcohol are messages which transcend race, religion, and ethnicity; and I am pleased to participate in this interfaith collaboration with the leadership of the Islamic Academy of Columbia.”
Snowden adds, “This [graduation] is unprecedented.”
D.A.R.E. – a multi-week education program aimed at deterring youth from drug use, gang activity, and related violence – was founded by the Los Angeles Police Dept. in 1983, and was deemed so successful that other law enforcement agencies began establishing D.A.R.E. programs in schools around the country.
Today the D.A.R.E. curriculum is being taught in classrooms by specially trained law-enforcement officers in all 50 states. According to D.A.R.E.’s website, “15,000-plus D.A.R.E. officers and deputies are in over 10,000 communities nationwide educating America’s youth and serving as the first line of defense in America’s schools.” Moreover, D.A.R.E. has been introduced into classrooms in nearly 50 countries around the world.
The RCSD facilitates all statewide training for the D.A.R.E. program.
– For more information, please visit http://www.rcsd.net/dare/.