YORK – York County Sheriff Captain Josh Gillespie has marked the completion of his 20th year as York County DARE instructor.
DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. But today’s DARE program also addresses critical risks kids face, besides drugs – teen suicide, social media safety, vaping and more. The mission of the program is to teach kids good decision-marking skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.
A series of DARE graduation ceremonies have been taking place at the York County schools – York Public, St. Joseph, Emmanuel-Faith Lutheran, McCool Junction and Heartland. Captain Gillespie has been handing out DARE diplomas and watching youngsters walk away with an enhanced ability to say no to drugs as well as navigate life in a complicated world.
“It’s hard to believe I’m in my 20th year/season of DARE,” Gillespie said. “Over those years, I’ve worked with just under 3,200 students.”
That’s an astounding number of kids – who are in the fifth or sixth grades when they go through the program. The participating grade is chosen by each school. But all middle school kids in the county go through the course taught by Captain Gillespie.
“I’ve been going to the graduations with him and all the teachers praise him and his teaching ability, how he reaches the kids,” said York County Sheriff Paul Vrbka. “The other night, I had grandparents come up to me to say how impressed they are with Captain Gillespie and they all say thank you for the program.”
DARE has existed in York County for many years, which Sheriff Vrbka says is impressive, “that’s it’s been successful and well received all this time.”
“We are really fortunate in that we’ve been able to work with great teachers and administrators,” Captain Gillespie said. “Many of them, well, I’ve worked with them for years.
“I also love about the program how the kids get to see us in law enforcement as real people,” Gillespie said further.
“And I’ve been a number of places with Captain Gillespie where teenagers come up to him and talk to him because they built a bond when they were little, when he taught them in DARE,” the sheriff added. “It’s really neat.”
“I’ve enjoyed being a DARE instructor and plan to continue on for years to come,” Gillespie said. “I’m glad it’s so well received in our county’s schools and has hopefully been a benefit to many.”