Letter: Spare children a life of substance abuse

The SOAR program is in danger as, apparently, it will no longer be funded by the City of Kelowna.

To the editor:

Many Kelowna and area Grade 6 students participate in a very important drug awareness program called SOAR (formerly DARE).

Taught by teachers and RCMP constables, the program provides crucial information about substances and their devastating effects, peer pressure and more.  Students at a SOAR celebration recently spoke very positively about the program, the in-depth knowledge they gained and the effect of the program on their resolve to not use drugs. Many students were impressed that the powerful video presentation was actually developed in Surrey, B.C. The video gives accounts of real people who experienced tragic, even fatal consequences from first-time experimentation or addiction and students were clearly impacted.

Each student had written an essay on what they’ve learned about substance misuse, avoidance strategies, the dangers of first-time use and gateway substances and finally, a personal pledge relating to resistance. It is so incredibly meaningful to these kids.

As a parent who has seen a few of these presentations, I have learned something new each time. With the growing drug culture, it is imperative that our children have current, accurate information and strategies from reliable sources, such as the SOAR team of educators.

While some people might think the material is unnecessary or too frightening for children, I would urge them to consider that not knowing the facts or ways to resist might lead to the most frightening consequences of all.

Sadly, I want to mention that the SOAR program is in danger as, apparently, it will no longer be funded by the City of Kelowna. Considering the range of academic, artistic, health and family life (ie abstinence) programs our children are taught in school, shouldn’t SOAR rank as a priority?

Please, let our city council know that we need the SOAR program. Every child that this program reaches is a child who can be empowered. Any child that is spared a life or death of substance misuse is a triumph.

Karen Cocar,