My name is Molly Rooth Corder. I am a local resident studying A levels at Joseph Whitaker. Since early 2017 I have been working with D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) America/International and Life Skills Education Charity on the D.A.R.E. Youth Advocacy Board representing the United Kingdom. D.A.R.E. America/International envisions a world in which students everywhere are empowered to respect others and choose to lead lives free from violence, substance use, and other dangerous behaviours. D.A.R.E. has been around since 1983 and is the most comprehensive drug prevention curricula in the world, taught in thousands of schools throughout America’s 50 states and its territories, as well as in 50-plus other countries reaching more than 1.5 million students annually.
Life Skills Education Charity delivers the D.A.R.E. program in the UK and has reached over 390,000 young people. The D.A.R.E. program has been evaluated and been proven to have a statistical effect on making safe and responsible choices alongside a whole heap of benefits, which can be found of the ‘Life Skills Education Charity’ website www.lifeskills-education.co.uk.
Drug and substance misuse by young people is an ever growing issue within the UK. In 2018 24% of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs; this figure is extremely alarming. There were 4,359 deaths related to drug poisoning registered in England and Wales in 2018 according to the Office of National Statistics, the highest number and the highest annual increase (16%) since 1993. Therefore, the importance of Life Skills programs being delivered is as prevalent as ever. It is crucial the reach of the programs is broadened further so more young people have access to this life-changing curriculum.
Life Skills has recently implemented the DARE 25; a program which explores multiple issues in the UK. One issue the program addresses is knife crime. Knife crime in England and Wales reached an unprecedented high in 2019, according to the Office of National Statistics increasing by 7% since the previous 12 months. The amount of police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument rose to 44,076 in 2019, the highest recorded number since comparable data began. DARE 25 focuses on these issues, and helps young people learn how to live a safe and healthy lifestyle.
My personal work with D.A.R.E. America/International and Life Skills Education Charity begun when I joined the D.A.R.E. Youth Advocacy Board (YAB) in 2017. The D.A.R.E. YAB, initiated by D.A.R.E. America in 2000, is composed of students from across the world. The YAB gives D.A.R.E. graduates an opportunity to speak to issues impacting the national and worldwide D.A.R.E. programs and to advise D.A.R.E. America and local D.A.R.E. programs, government and community leaders on drug and violence prevention strategies beneficial to our youth.
Being a part of the D.A.R.E. Youth Advocacy Board has truly been the best experience of my life. As a part of the YAB I have participated in training workshops that have helped me to develop my skills such as public speaking and advocacy. Being on the board has given me the opportunity to represent my country at the D.A.R.E. international conferences where my fellow YABs and I are provided the opportunity to be a voice to the young people in the UK and around the world regarding relevant issues on substance abuse, suicide prevention, and much more.
I have also had the opportunity to meet and speak to influential representatives that have attended the conferences, allowing me to make a real difference. Being a young person, I have seen first-hand how life choices have affected my peers; some positively and some extremely negatively, and therefore, I understand the importance of making safe and healthy choices every day in order to succeed. My position as a part of the YAB will come to an end this year and as I graduate from the board and move onwards to university, I am excited to use the skills and lessons I have learnt throughout my life and am also looking forward to welcoming the next UK youth advocate to the board.
If you or someone you know knows a group of young people who could benefit from these fantastic programs, I strongly recommend you check out Life Skills Education Charity at www.lifeskills-education.co.uk. To keep up with my work and what I’m doing please follow me on Instagram at: @ukdareyab.
Molly Rooth Corder