Sunday, February 23, 2003

DARE class for home schoolers

Co-op may be 1st for national program

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Warren County sheriff's deputies dare to be different in spreading their anti-drug message.

In what is believed to be a first in the nation, the department is teaching the DARE program to a dozen home-schooled children in grades 6 through 8 who meet weekly to socialize and share classes in the Veritas Christian Co-op.

"It's important. We are at home and sheltered from real school problems," said Shelly Noble, a Lebanon mother who approached sheriff's deputies about teaching DARE to the home-schoolers, including her 12-year-old son, David. "The more exposure they have, the more prepared they are going to be."

Deputies Don McGlothlin and Ken McCloud, who between them teach 28 DARE classes in seven schools throughout the county, tag-team their teaching duties for the home-schooled group, which gathers at the Praise & Worship Center on Miller Road.

The students come from Lebanon, Mason, Deerfield Township, Waynesville and other areas of the county.

The class is about midway through the 16-week program, which teaches not only about drugs, but how to deal with peer pressure and other situations, such as bullying.

This week, the students used role-playing to learn how to effectively assert themselves in uncomfortable situations.

McCloud played a bossy cop who pulled over 12-year-old Haley Bledsoe of Lebanon in her make-believe car. McCloud shouted at Haley and demanded that she hand over her driver's license immediately.

"Patience is a virtue," Haley said as she looked him in the eye. Her classmates broke out in laughter.

"I can be demanding as a police officer, but a lot of times it didn't get me anywhere. I learned that early on," McCloud later told the class.

He summed up a point of the lesson: "When you got to college, so many people are going to demand you do this and demand you do that, especially when it comes to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes."

Andrew Wagner, a 12-year-old sixth-grader, expects the lessons he learns from deputies McGlothlin and McCloud to come in handy when he goes to a public high school.

"You learn how to resist drugs," he said.

Vicki Berger's children - Matt, 13, and Becca, 11 - attend the class.

"It's laid back. But, at the same time, they are getting the gist of the message," the Lebanon mother said. "Our kids do need this. It's important. As long as they have information and truth, they can deal with it."

Jan Walton, executive director of the DARE Association of Ohio, called Warren County's inclusion of home-schooled children trend-setting.

"They have tapped into another resource here and are reaching a whole other group of children that we haven't been able to reach before," she said.

Ralph Lochridge, spokesman for Dare America, the program's national office in California, said he has fielded many requests from parents about continuing classes at home for children who are seriously ill and unable attend school. He can't remember anyone setting up a program for a group of home-schooled children.

"I've been with DARE almost 10 years now, and I've never heard of this. It's very unique," he said.


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