Jackson Danis likes helping people out. It’s just what the Grade 6 student at Westwind elementary school does on a regular basis, whether it’s at school or sports activities.
Most of the time it goes without much notice.
But when Jackson volunteered to spend part of this vacation time during the recent spring break helping someone else in need, it caught the attention of DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) B.C.Society’s organizers who provide in-school programs to Grade 5 youngsters across the province. And it earned him a Good Citizenship Award — a new one for DARE — which is handed out to those who have graduated from the organization’s 10-week course and have gone on to make a difference in their community.
Jackson was nominated for the award by a probation officer who works with his mother, Michelle.
He helped out in his mom’s office and cleaned up and re-organized the office space of the probation officer who was returning to work after a lengthy time away following back surgery.
“He came in on his days off and helped put things back together, since the office had been used by other workers and was a bit of a disaster,” said Steve Ternes, vice president of DARE who presented Jackson with the award medal and certificate Monday during the DARE graduation ceremony for the current crop of Grade 5 students at Westwind.
“He organized, re-organized and schlepped stuff back and forth, which was a fine example of giving back to the community.
“And not everybody gets thanked for what they do, but this is a little thank-you from us at DARE B.C. for going that extra mile.”
“I just wanted to help out. And it was really fun because we found stuff in the office that was from 2013 and 2014,” said Jackson after receiving his award.
“Jackson has a huge heart,” said mom Michelle. “He loves to help people and that’s just his personality.”
“We are very fortunate the way he steps up all the time,” added dad Jeff, “That’s a day in the life of Jackson.”
DARE began in the 1980s in Prince George and is an offshoot of the DARE program in the U.S.
“We’re grateful of the partnership we have with the RCMP,” Ternes said, adding DARE is presented to about 10,000 youngsters throughout B.C. each year, with Richmond’s 1,800 or so being the organization’s largest community group.
“We strongly believe the lessons the students are getting are making a difference. And Richmond is where we have the strongest response. And we needed to recognize some of the kids who were going the extra mile.” Ternes said.
“I’m a big believer in this program, as are the other officers, as well,” said Richmond RCMP’s Const. Bal Kandola, who led the DARE program at the school, adding it goes a long way in helping the students make the right decisions when faced with situations regarding drugs, alcohol and bullying.
Kandola said she hoped that, because of DARE, parents would find it easier to talk with their children about those subjects.
While Jackson is a year on from his time in the DARE program, he still recalls fondly the impact it had on him.
“It was really a lot of fun and we learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before and will probably remember for the rest of my whole life,” he said.