Brad Wilkins has been teaching children about drug and alcohol awareness in Mission for 10 years. But as Wilkins winds down his career with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), he is also retiring from the classrooms and his work as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer.
DARE is a nine-week program aimed at students in Grades 5 and 6.
As Wilkins’ final class graduated last week at Cherry Hill elementary, Wilkins was also recognized with a 10-year service award from the RCMP, which administers the program across Canada.
“DARE is a fantastic program,” said Wilkins. “It really is all about the kids. We teach them critical thinking — how to analyze a problem and make an effective decision. It’s all about making healthy choices and staying away from dangerous substances.”
Wilkins has been an advocate of the program, which has U.S.A. roots, even before it was offered in Canada. He had been receiving information about it since the early 1990s and was eager to seize the opportunity when CBSA was invited to help law enforcement professionals deliver the message.
Wilkins began his teachings at Ferndale elementary in Mission in 2003 and eventually built a strong relationship with the staff and students there before it closed. He continued to take on classes — up to eight classes a year — and has brought the message to about 1,550 children.