Over the years, this community has worked to counteract
the growing problem of drug abuse with support groups and
Now the Houlton Police Department is gearing up to add another
resource to those efforts by rekindling the Drug Abuse Resistance
Education, or D.A.R.E., program at the Houlton Southside
School after a yearlong hiatus.
Houlton police Officer Steve Nason recently returned from
two weeks of training
in New Hampshire to become a D.A.R.E. officer. He will begin
instructing the SAD 29 pupils in mid-January. The department
did not have a D.A.R.E. officer in the middle school last
year, as Houlton's former D.A.R.E. officer left to take
The D.A.R.E. program offers youth skills to avoid involvement
in drugs, gangs and violence. The program was founded in
1983 and is now being implemented in 75 percent of school
districts in the United States and in more than 43 countries
around the world, according to the D.A.R.E. Web site.
Police Chief Butch Asselin said earlier this week that he
was excited to have Nason leading the program. "We had the
D.A.R.E. program when I was [police chief] in Skowhegan,
and I believe it is an effective program that helps deter
kids from taking drugs and teaches them about making good
choices," he said. "Officer Nason is a great officer and
a good fit for this position."
Asselin said the program that will be delivered to the students
in Houlton will be slightly revamped. "The usual program
is delivered in 10 weeks, but because of the makeup of the
school system, we believe we can do it in two weeks," he
said. "Officer Nason will be in the school every day, all
day during that time period."
Nason said the two-week D.A.R.E. officer training - which
was delivered in New Hampshire because it no longer is offered
in Maine - was intensive. The program the
students will take part in will be more interactive than
in past years, and the youth will participate in the sessions.
"I am very excited to get started," he said earlier this
week. Nason said he already has begun joining the middle-schoolers
for lunch whenever possible in order to get to know them
better before the program starts.
Already looking to the future, Asselin said he would like
to see the program grow. "I would like to expand it to include
kids from Hodgdon [SAD 70]," he said. "We are all part of
a greater community and we are all dealing with this problem."