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Law enforcement and community leaders gearing up for DARESCREAM 2017

Contributed by Sheriff Leon Lott

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program continues to educate young people and build critical rapport between law enforcement and our youth and communities.

A multi-week education program aimed at deterring youth from drug use, gang activity, and related violence, D.A.R.E. was founded by the Los Angeles Police Dept. in 1983, and it was adapted by other law enforcement agencies around the country.

Today, the D.A.R.E. curriculum is 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.

D.A.R.E. is in most elementary schools throughout Richland County. It is growing in the middle schools, and we have high expectations for the newly released D.A.R.E. high school programs.  And RCSD has become the home of the D.A.R.E. Training Center for all of the Palmetto State.

In our opinion, D.A.R.E. is not simply important; It’s essential. I recognized the value of this program early on, and refused to allow it to slip into the oblivion of great ideas unrealized. I knew we couldn’t abandon D.A.R.E. We all know this today, and it continues to exist at no financial cost to our communities.

How do we support this vital effort? DARE Scream is but one way.

A unique fall festival in the heart of Forest Acres’ business district at Forest Park Shopping Center, D.A.R.E. Scream is a held annually to support the D.A.R.E. program here in S.C.

D.A.R.E. Scream started as joint effort between the superintendents from Richland County’s three school districts – Richland One’s Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Richland Two’s Dr. Baron Davis, Lexington/Richland District Five’s Dr. Stephen Hefner – many principals, Spears Westbrook of Baskin Robbin’s on Forest Drive in Columbia, and myself.

Last year, Groucho’s Deli and the Forest Acres Restaurant and Merchant Association joined us. Parents, children, law enforcement, school personnel, and the business sector have all since come together in an environment conducive to true community bridge-building.

Last year’s D.A.R.E. Scream was a huge success. This year’sD.A.R.E. Scream – to be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Oct. 5 fat Forest Park Shopping Center – will be no exception.

Allow me to share a few of the fun activitiesD.A.R.E. Scream offers:

  • Baskin Robbins will sell ice cream cones for $1.50, and area school principals will participate in an ice cream “clown cone” contest with Baskin Robbins staff members and surprise celebrities serving as judges.
  • We will have a bounce house and obstacle course from Little Party People.
  • There will be great food vendors, face painting, a bicycle safety course, D.A.R.E. poster contests for 5th grade and 7th grade D.A.R.E. students, a kids’ identification program, Capital Karate demonstrations and other surprises.
  • There will be static displays of police vehicles, a D.A.R.E. truck, and an RCSD helicopter. The RCSD mounted horse patrol also will be on hand as will celebrity deputies seen on A&E’s hit television series, Live PD, and others.
  • The rock band, Thunder Pigs, will perform as will the Capital City Shag Club, which will also offer dance lessons.
  • Tripp Miller of Soccer Plus, an official with S.C. United Football, will clock participants on how fast they can kick a soccer ball (speed detected by radar).

We don’t want you to miss it, and we don’t want to miss seeing you. So I urge everyone – students, families, and friends of all – to join Spears Westbrook of Baskin Robbins, Drew Hampton of Groucho’s, the Forest Acres Police Dept., School Resource Officers and D.A.R.E. instructors from the City of Columbia Police Dept., the Chester County Sheriff’s Dept., RCSD and me at D.A.R.E. Scream.

This will be a truly fun way to support our communities’ vital D.A.R.E. programs, ensuring a brighter future for all.

For more information about the Richland County Sheriff’s Dept., please visit http://rcsd.net.

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