Mount Moriah teen Jenna Boardman travels to conferences and training sessions as the Canadian representative on the D.A.R.E. America/International Youth Advocacy Board

CORNER BROOK, N.L. — Jenna Boardman has been in positions where she’s felt pressured by peers to try drugs or alcohol.

“People have offered me stuff all the time,” said the 15-year-old from Mount Moriah.

When that happens the Level 1 student at Corner Brook Regional High puts to use the things she’s learned through the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program.

Corner Brook Intermediate principal Peter Burt (left), Jenna Boardman and RNC Sgt. Bob Edwards at Boardman’s Grade 6 D.A.R.E. program graduation at Sacred Heart in Corner Brook.

“I’m just, ‘Like, I’m not into that.’ I don’t see the purpose. I don’t see the reason. And I don’t need to harm myself for no reason, because that’s what it’s doing.”

Jenna took part in the D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL Program while in Grade 6 at Sacred Heart and three years later joined the D.A.R.E. America/International Youth Advocacy Board as its Canadian representative. It’s a position she’ll hold until she graduates from high school.

“I was just one of the kids who just fell in love with it,” Jenna said of her experience with the program in Grade 6. “I loved police officers coming into the classroom. I learned so much from them. Every week they’d come in and I’d go home, and I’d talk about it forever.”

What hooked her was the fact the messages and lessons were presented in a way she could understand.

“Because it just stuck in your brain, it was easy to understand,” she said.

“Because as kids you don’t know a whole lot about drug abuse. You hear of it, but you really don’t understand it. And they just simplified it and made it so easy to understand, and then they made it really simple to just say no.

“They taught you how to stand up for yourself, how to react to peer pressure, and it was really easy once you had the tools that they gave you. It was super easy to make the right decisions.”

As a member of the youth board, Jenna works on projects in the community and goes on trips hosted by D.A.R.E. to attend conferences and training sessions.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started she got to go back to her old elementary school and help with a presentation about the D.A.R.E. program.

“It’s kind of flipped,” she said of being the facilitator and not the student, adding that she loved the experience.

Now that she can’t get out in the community as she would like to, and with June 26, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, coming up, Jenna still wants to interact with young people, especially those stuck at home.

“It’s hard sometimes to make the right decision,” she said.

“In these hard times just try to keep yourself busy and just try and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay safe.”

She encourages anyone who might be struggling to seek help.

“ [sic] is always there for you. They have lots of useful tips and stuff on their website. All the messages that they taught me, it really comes in handy all the time.”

Jenna’s dad, Jeff Boardman, is quite proud of all his daughter has done by taking on the responsibility as a D.A.R.E. representative.

“It’s just amazing that at her age at the time, she took this on and ran with it.”

Boardman said D.A.R.E. has certainly had a positive impact on his daughter from Grade 6 and on.

“She was always lobbying against the bad stuff.”

Seeing the D.A.R.E. organization at work while on trips with Jenna has also been enlightening, he said.

Boardman said the trips aren’t a vacation, and Jenna works hard and attends the same conferences and training sessions as the police officers who facilitate the program.

He said Jenna has developed a good foundation in making good choices, which gives him comfort, especially this past year when she entered high school.

“This is the time when kids get the peer pressure. This is when it hits. This is when that stuff is the cool stuff, and she navigated it well.”

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All Rights Reserved.