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published: Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Scream if you DARE
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
AVON PARK - Fifth-graders took over South Florida State College Tuesday morning during the DARE Day event. Fifth-graders from each of the county's elementary schools were pumped and ready to go when they arrived at the SFSC Performing Arts Theatre.
DARE Day is an annual event that brings together the county's young learners to participate in a positive, uplifting event. Resource officers from each of the schools are present along with the Sebring High School cheerleading squad, guests speakers and the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance and Education) role models.
The role models are high school students who participate in DARE clubs, events and promote healthy and positive lifestyles for themselves and the younger generations.
Each of the role models gave a "public service announcement" to the fifth-graders. These PSAs, in the form of skits, included a number of topics - everything from following your dreams to reporting abuse.
According to the DARE role models, last year 950 children in Highlands County were reported as victims of abuse. The role models continued to stress the importance of telling a trusted adult if the students or a friend of theirs is being abused in any way.
A colorful skit about the consequences of buying drugs depicted Highlands County Sheriff's deputies arresting three men who had just finished a drug deal. The kids yelled excitedly as "Bad Boys," the theme song of the television show "Cops," blared in the auditorium.
Heartland Idol winner Nala Price sang a couple of songs and the Avon Park Diamond Steppers wowed students, parents and teachers with their one-of-a-kind performance.
Special guest speaker Dustin Woods, lead pastor of Grace Bible Church and SHS football coach, addressed the students enthusiastically, giving any nearby college students a nice surprise when their loud screams reached ear blasting levels after Woods instructed them to "make some noise."
The fired up students were challenged by Woods to be difference makers in the community and out in the world.
"For you to reach your full potential it's going to take hard work and commitment. Say it with me," Woods said.
Students repeated the two phrases (hard work, commitment) loudly as Woods continued speaking to the excited students.
"We need you to be difference-makers. You are the future teachers, doctors, artists, athletes that this world will be depending on. I challenge you. I dare you. I double-dog dare you to be a difference maker," Woods said.
The DARE program is a long-running program that helps students recognize the danger of drugs, alcohol and bad choices. It uses familiar faces to deliver a message to students at a pivotal age so that positive choices and behaviors are already ingrained in them by the time they hit middle and high school. The DARE program is used throughout the state of Florida as well as nationwide for the same purposes.
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