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TORII STATION, Okinawa — Students throughout the Pacific will learn more than how to “just say no” as the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system is boosting its Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

While the old DARE training taught students facts about drug use and how to “say no,” the new measures will help students make lifestyle changes, according to Scott Gilliam, director of training for DARE America.

“The difference between this [curriculum] and the old is now we concentrate on one area of development — decision-making,” Gilliam said. “We run them through authentic situational ideas that they come up with themselves. We arm them with facts and truths about drugs.”

The improved training will teach students not only to resist drugs, but also alcohol, tobacco and violence, according to Patty Petty, a DODDS-Pacific physical education and health specialist. They’ll also learn about the health hazards and effects of inappropriate choices, as well as the consequences of making the wrong one. Critical-thinking skills will be stressed.

Starting next year, Gilliam said, students will put their skills to work by role-playing in small groups. Acting out the scenarios helps them see it more realistically.

To sharpen the message, Gilliam has recruited a small group of DARE officer trainers to introduce the new curriculum to Pacific instructors. Beginning Monday, 33 military police DARE officers from bases throughout the Pacific will undergo nearly two weeks of training.

It will culminate with a practice teaching session on May 20 in a fifth- or sixth-grade classroom at Kadena and Stearley Heights elementary schools, and Amelia Earhart Intermediate School, all on Kadena Air Base, Petty said.

The instructor trainers will oversee all practice sessions and a graduation will be held the following day at Kadena’s Teen Center Millennium.

All graduates will receive DARE certifications, which will allow them to teach the program next year.

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