S/DB Antuan Edwards, WR Terry Glenn, and LS Rob Davis visit with students & faculty at MacArthur Elementary School on Wednesday to promote the D.A.R.E. program.
Wednesday, fifth-graders at MacArthur Elementary School in Green Bay let loose helium balloons into a warm spring breeze, watching them drift across a field and soar above the trees before disappearing in the distance. Afterward, they engaged in playful dance and song with Brown County Police Captain John Gossage, vowing with their words to stay away from harmful drugs, demonstrating with their flawless choreography that in previous meetings with Gossage, he'd had their attention.
It was a small, but welcomed sign of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program at work in Brown County. If those kids had listened to Gossage long enough to learn those dance moves, imagine what they learned along the way.
It wasn't long ago however that the future of D.A.R.E. in Brown County didn't seem like something to boogie about. Ten thousand dollars short of their necessary funds, D.A.R.E. was in danger of folding.
That was before 12 Green Bay area organizations stepped in to cover the deficit, sponsoring the program by purchasing advertisements that were painted on the sides of D.A.R.E. vehicles ala NASCAR. Among those organizations was the Green Bay Packers, making three donations in the name of the offense, defense and special teams.
On hand at MacArthur Elementary to represent those contributions were wide receiver Terry Glenn, safety/defensive back Antuan Edwards and long snapper Rob Davis, respectively, who accepted the gratitude of D.A.R.E. on behalf of the Packers organization, while thrilling the students with their attendance.
Sue Todey, the president of the Green Bay Area Drug Alliance and the director of student services for Green Bay Public Schools, said the presence of such recognizable faces sent an important message to the D.A.R.E. enrollees in attendance.
"It shows these kids that this entire community cares about them, not just parents and teachers," Todey said. "There's a wide range of people here today who are saying, we want to provide you with the best kind of education and quality of life that you can have. . . That's significant because studies have shown that one of the most important things for kids developmentally is to see that adults care for them."
This year more than 3,000 fifth and sixth grade Brown County students will go through the D.A.R.E. program, which looks to not only instruct youngsters about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but also to give them the tools necessary to avoid negative peer pressure situations, build self-esteem and resist gangs and group violence.
"D.A.R.E. by itself is not the answer to drug and alcohol abuse in our society, but it's certainly part of the solution to this problem," said Brown County Sheriff Thomas Hintz.
For the Packers, the decision to help keep D.A.R.E. afloat was an easy one.
"Drug and alcohol prevention is the program that you just can't ever do too much to support," said Jerry Parins, Packers corporate security officer. "We are very happy to be associated with D.A.R.E. and to be able to provide assistance for such a worthy cause."
It's money well spent, Todey assured.
"(D.A.R.E.) is a wonderful program," she said. "While it may be costly, unless we prevent alcohol and drug abuse problems, we will have to pay much more in the way of dealing with problems in the future. Prevention is always much less expensive than is intervention in terms of dollars and human suffering."
And with the influence of D.A.R.E. in their lives, perhaps the futures of these young students will be as bright as their smiles were upon shimmying with Gossage and shaking hands of guys named Glenn, Edwards and Davis.