Deputy Mike Jorgensen teaches the students in Mr. Livington's fifth grade class at Huntington Elementary.
The Emery County Sheriff's Office has been using the DARE program in the classrooms for the past 20 years. Sheriff LaMar Guymon said, "DARE is an excellent program. It's worked for us and we hadn't thought about changing, but when we attended the Sheriff's Corrections training in the fall some of our DARE officers spent some time in attendance at the NOVA workshop. They were impressed by the program. The program started with Orem Police Sgt. Wakamatsu and child clinical family psychologist Dr. Paul Jenkins. The program basically has all that DARE has but includes more information on bullying, belittling and that kind of thing. NOVA also includes a component that gets the parents involved. We have always felt that was missing from DARE. With NOVA the parents become involved in the program. The training the children receive at school is reinforced at home by reviewing the program with the children. The behaviors the children learn can be implemented in the home, also to make family life better.
"Capt. Kyle Ekker contacted Sgt. Wakamatsu and began investigating the program. Gwen Callahan from the school district also became involved. Dr. Paul and Sgt. Wakamatsu came and did a training demonstration for our officers and the school district. From this meeting it was decided to give this program a try. In December, Capt. Ekker, myself, Sgt. Harrison and the NOVA officers, Mike Jorgensen, Garrett Conover, Doug Downard and Jerod Curtis attended a five day training in Orem at the police station with several officers from the Salt Lake area. At the end of the training all the officers received a certificate of completion of training. The NOVA program is now being implemented in the elementary schools and will expand to the junior high and high schools in the future.
"The program is excellent because it deals with helping children find positive solutions to problems. The sheriff's office is involved in a continuing effort to help the youth of our county through this new program. Our goal is to spend as much time in the schools as we can. We believe that in having a positive interaction with the students that we can be an influence for good in their lives," said Sheriff Guymon.
Det. Jerod Curtis said, "Our officers are visiting each of the fifth grade classes in the county. The NOVA program is a 13-14 lesson program. NOVA stands for Nurturing, Opportunities, Values and Accountability. The parent component is one of the reasons we decided to go with the NOVA program. The children begin by signing a contract that they are going to become and stay involved in the program. They promise not to do things that will degrade what we teach them. Some of the lessons consist of learning about drug facts concerning marijuana, alcohol, tobacco and inhalants. One lesson deals with opportunities and making choices and decisions as they come up in your life. A component of the program is self-esteem training where you let the children know they can be better, they don't need to listen to negative comments. They can set goals and make positive changes in their lives.
"One lesson teaches anger management and not to throw fits. It teaches them to deal with issues in a mature way. One lesson teaches about teasing and bullying prevention. We teach an understanding of how these behaviors affect others and how what the children do and say can be destructive and hurtful to others.
"This program concentrates a lot on the harmful affects of the media. The children are taught that TV shows, movies, and video games can cause destructive behaviors and do have harmful effects. We bring that to their attention, that what they watch does have an effect on you.
"Another aspect of the program is internet safety. The children are taught to be careful on the internet and not give out personal information about themselves and their families. The program also talks about pornography and the harmful effects it has on young people.
"One of the lessons deals with music and how listening to music can affect you. The program also touches on gangs.
"After students complete the NOVA program they write a report on how they will implement the NOVA principles into their lives. They will report on what they've learned. There are a lot of games involved in the NOVA program. Nearly every lesson has a game to go along with it that the officers play with the children. The children are encouraged to talk to their parents about what they are learning. They report to their parents and the parents should go over the material with the children. These are real life lessons they can use in their every day lives to problem solve and make their lives better. One thing I've tried to do when working with the children is to go to recess with them one day. It's good for the children to see the officers interacting with them in a good way.
"The mascot of the NOVA program is the lone wolf. A lone wolf can take a stand against the bad. The lone wolf can be the guide. It's OK to be the only one speaking out against something. Don't be afraid to stand up for your principles. You alone can make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Just because others are doing something, doesn't mean that you have to. The program helps to build a positive attitude and is a positive step for our county.
"A lot of the agencies up state have switched to the NOVA program. It's just a more indepth program," said Curtis.