DARE program continues to educate Stone County students thanks to continued support

Crane, MO. -- A program that's been teaching kids to say "no" to drugs for years is going strong in Stone County, thanks to continuing funding.

The DARE Program now offers lessons that go beyond the basics. Officers teach fifth-graders about good decision-making when it comes to everything from drugs to vaping to being a good citizen.

"DARE isn't just about drugs and alcohol awareness anymore. We talk about how to be good citizens, how to deal with stress," Corporal Melissa Riggins, with the Stone County Sheriff's Department, said.

Corporal Riggins says they even tackle tough topics like bullying.

"You can't judge somebody by their appearance, you need to get to know them," Student Brooklynn Fincher said.

The information is really sinking in among students, and that's made possible by community support.

"All of our DARE program is funded with donations and fundraisers, no tax dollars," Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said.

That's why, in Stone County, they say a recent grant from the Rotary Club of Table Rock Lake and the generosity of locals has kept the program going again this year.

"I don't know that I've ever gone to a business or an individual and they've told me no," Corporal Riggins said.

The program is about more than the lessons themselves.

"We just want them to be aware that [officers] are here to help them and if they need help, they know they can call us," Sheriff Rader said.

It's a joint-effort as law enforcement comes alongside educators to invest in the future of Stone County kids.

"We're teaching kids to be responsible. We are teaching kids to think before they act," Fifth-Grade Teacher Megan Blair said. "We are teaching them more than just saying 'no' to drugs, because there's more than that now."

They say it's about providing priceless lessons to those who need them most.

"If Corporal Riggins or anyone else doesn't teach them about these things or what to do, then who is?" Brooklynn said.

​Corporal Riggins says DARE is being offered in every school in Stone County, that includes five districts. That's something, with continued support, they plan to continue for years to come.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.