HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WATE) — One East Tennessee county is offering a drug prevention program for homeschool students.
“D.A.R.E.” is a substance abuse prevention education program. The program stands for “Drug, Abuse, Resistance and Education,” and until Tuesday, in Tennessee, it was only taught in public schools.
When walking into one of the rooms at Harriman Public Library, it may look like a normal class is being taught. However, the lessons being taught have taken months to prepare.
“Several months ago, I got a phone call from a mother in our community,” Roane County Chief Deputy Tim Hawn said.
That phone call was from a mom wondering if a D.A.R.E. program could be taught to her homeschooled children.
“So, I contacted some folks with D.A.R.E., some of the D.A.R.E. coordinators in Nashville,” Hawn said.
Those coordinators said a D.A.R.E. program for homeschoolers hadn’t been done before in Tennessee. Hawn was up for the challenge.
“It took a lot of work, a lot of getting people together, tossing around different ideas,” he said.
The class is also taught by Roane County Sheriff’s Office who wants to help young people understand drug awareness.
“D.A.R.E. is not just about drug abuse, resistance, education but it’s about providing life skills, it’s about providing social skills, education against vaping,” Hawn said.
The first class had 10-20 students inside the Harriman Public Library, with the highest being sixth grade.
“We’re looking at anywhere from fourth, fifth, and sixth grade,” he added.
Roane County Sheriff’s deputies deemed the first class as a success.
“What we’re teaching them and what we’re talking about, they’re dealing with it in real-life situations. And over my seven years of teaching D.A.R.E, I’ve had a lot of kids ask me a lot of questions about how to deal with certain situations and the things that they’re dealing with,” said Roger Rex, vice president of East Tennessee D.A.R.E. Association
They’re teaching kids how to resist peer pressure, and although this is the first D.A.R.E. class for homeschoolers, they expect more programs to begin across the state.
“I’m glad to be here and be a part of it for the first time in the state of Tennessee and I’m sure there will be others that will be jumping on board,” Rex said.
D.A.R.E. was founded in 1983 and has been implemented in thousands of schools throughout the United States.