Program an investment in our children

“This is an investment in our children.”

D.A.R.E. Officer Dave Jehnzen and Rockford’s Chief of Police Dave Jones spoke before the Plainfield Township Board Monday, May 3, asking the township to continue to support D.A.R.E. Jehnzen took time to describe some of the highlights of the program and answer the board’s questions.

Officer Dave Jehnzen speaks before the Plainfield Township Board, asking them to continue to fund the student D.A.R.E. program. “D.A.R.E. isn’t about drugs. It is about a complete approach to lifestyle as they go through elementary school, high school and hopefully for the rest of their lives,” Jehnzen said.

Plainfield Township has long been one of the community supporters of the D.A.R.E. program, which reaches children in the Rockford Public School district, including Our Lady of Consolation schools. Plainfield Township has budgeted $10,000 for D.A.R.E. Algoma Township, which has yearly donated $5,000 to D.A.R.E., withdrew funding this year.

“D.A.R.E. is not about drugs. It is about good decision-making,” Jehnzen said.

Chief Jones estimates over 100,000 children have been through the program since the City of Rockford Police Department took over the program in 1999. Prior to that the Michigan State Police ran D.A.R.E.

Jehnzen’s D.A.R.E. duties feature working with fifth-grade students in a 10-week curriculum, covering the hazards of alcohol, tobacco and peer pressure, as well as making good friends and decisions. D.A.R.E. has a presence in all grades, K-12, but has a separate program for seventh- and eighth-grade students.

“It is a completely different curriculum in the older students. We bring things back from the fifth-grade discussion, and move on to more age-appropriate material,” said Jehnzen.

Jones said that funding D.A.R.E. is crucial, and the program will close if funding sources dry up. “Costs have gone up over the years, but we have never asked for an increase in funding,” Jones said.

The City of Rockford has absorbed the increased cost of wages for the D.A.R.E. officer and supplies. A golf outing is now helping fund D.A.R.E, opening up opportunities for anyone to show their support of the program.

Businesses and individuals are invited to help support this program that has touched the lives of every student in the Rockford Public Schools district. The annual D.A.R.E. outing is scheduled for Thursday, June 24, 2010, at Boulder Creek Golf Club. Sponsorships are as little as $125, with limited availability sponsorships from $2,250 for dinner to $250 for a hole-in-one contest.

The day’s activities include lunch on the course and a buffet dinner after the event. The cost to participate is $100 per person and $400 per team. Registration is from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. For more information, call Officers Dave Robinson or Aaron Sawyer at (616) 866-9557.

The Rockford Police and Rockford Public Schools thank all sponsors, past and present, for their support. Without that support, they would be unable to offer D.A.R.E., a program that empowers students to resist peer pressure in the use of drugs, bullying and more. For every dollar spent on preventative programs, communities save $10 in the cost of future law enforcement action.

“As we invest in these children, we are getting that back in not having to arrest, house in a jail, rehabilitate and more,” Jones said.

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