Woodford County Sheriff’s Deputy Angela Painter visited Springfield Nov. 17.
Painter, who serves as the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Deputy, was not alone. She went with Evan Johnson and Kelsie Cook, two fifth graders from Lowpoint/Washburn Junior High School. Painter and the students met with Gov. Pat Quinn and several Illinois General Assembly members to discuss the importance of D.A.R.E. in Illinois schools.
During the visit, House Resolution No. 578, offered by representatives Tom Cross, Timothy L. Schmitz, and JoAnn D. Osmond, was read into the record. In part the resolution read:
“WHEREAS, The State of Illinois recognizes the nationwide seriousness of drug abuse and violence by our nation’s and our State’s youth, and the urgent need to use and to expand school-based prevention education programs throughout the nation; and
“WHEREAS, The day-to-day struggle against alcohol abuse, tobacco, drugs, and violence requires a long-term national, state, and local effort and commitment; and
“WHEREAS, Since 1983, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program has taught millions of young people how to recognize and to resist the pressure to be involved in drugs, gangs, and violent activities; and
“WHEREAS, Illinois’ D.A.R.E. Program shows a commitment by the State to never cease in its duties to fight the war on drugs and violence.”
Painter has been the D.A.R.E. instructor for two years. She teaches classes in eight Woodford County schools to about 550 students.
She said there is a bond between her and her students.
“Creating a bond between the students and law enforcement is part of the purpose of D.A.R.E.,” Painter said. “It’s not just about drug and alcohol education. They get to see we are people.”
That bond has proven important.
“I’ve had kids report abuse and instances of bullying,” Painter said. “I’ve had kids even bring up instances of drug abuse at home.”
Painter conceded that opinions vary on the value of D.A.R.E.
“Its value depends on who you ask. Ask the teachers and kids in Woodford County and they will say they are all for it,” Painter said.
“We fought for the program when the county board wanted to cut the funding for it. The kids, teachers and parents fought for it. It’s supported among most of the county board members. Woodford County absolutely supports it.”
Painter said she could not say D.A.R.E. saves every child from drug and alcohol abuse.
“We don’t have a fix all for that. But, if D.A.R.E. saves one kid it’s worth it,” Painter said.