Harding, N.J. – Thirty-two students at Harding Elementary school celebrated the completion of their L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) program with a graduation ceremony on May 4, 2017. Afterwards, students were treated to a pizza lunch courtesy of the Harding Township Police Department.

“Of chief concern to the Harding Township Police Department is our school, our students and our teachers,” said Mark Giansanti, Chief of Police. “Our job is to impart as much useful knowledge to our younger students to give them workable deterrents to refrain from making bad choices and to make good choices.  And the L.E.A.D. program does that.”

Through a practical approach that integrates well within the classroom environment, L.E.A.D. IN THE CLASSROOM is an evidence-based K-12 interactive program using games, role-plays, and thought-provoking activities to bring skills and concepts to life to help kids resist the pressure to drink, smoke and take drugs.  The program also teaches life skills such as conflict resolution, decision making, and effective communication. 

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“I am proud to teach this program because our children are our most precious and important resource, and I believe it’s important for students to have positive interactions with police officers,” said Officer Lou Pirrello who got to know the students throughout the year, and was named L.E.A.D. National Officer of The Month by the organization which was subsequently recognized with a Harding Township Committee resolution.  “I encourage all of us as parents to reinforce with our kids the need for positive choices.”

Parents, educators and  L.E.A.D. mascot, Leo the Labrador, gathered in the auditorium. Participation awards were given to students who were actively involved in classroom discussions and activities and to those who completed homework assignments on time. Essay winners read their papers on what L.E.A.D. meant to them, all of them reflecting a common theme: positive interaction between students and police officers is important to keeping the lines of communications open for truthful conversation.  

“Our goal is to provide a proven and effective program to help kids make good decisions when faced with drinking, smoking and drugs,” said Nick DeMauro, Executive Director and CEO of L.E.A.D. “It is quite exciting to hear in their essays that we are helping them do that, creating a dialogue, and making a difference in their lives.”

“We are lucky to have Officer Lou teaching our students,” said Giansanti.   “He has taught L.E.A.D. for the past two years and has garnered the admiration of school administrators and teachers as well as respect and attention of the students he teaches.”

About L.E.A.D.

L.E.A.D., established in 2014, is a comprehensive initiative that includes IN THE CLASSROOM and ON THE STREET programs with a mission to prevent drug abuse, deter drug related crimes, eliminate violence and bullying, and promote law enforcement.  L.E.A.D. is supported by dedicated law enforcement officers committed to protecting youth and communities by collaborating with educators, community leaders, families, and L.E.A.D. support organizations.

L.E.A.D. is the only law enforcement-focused 501(c)(3) charitable organization that uses proven effective evidence-based K-12 curricula in its IN THE CLASSROOM program.  We do this in partnership with the Mendez Foundation and its Too Good For Drugs and Too Good For Violence family of curricula.  These scripted lessons help promote the development of students’ prosocial skills as well as the skills to resist pressures to use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.  The program also teaches life skills such as conflict resolution, decision making, and effective communication.  Our ON THE STREET program gives law enforcement officers research-based information and skills to support the four missions of L.E.A.D. This training allows officers to bring best practices back to their respective agencies in order to support community prevention programs which create safer and healthier communities free of drugs, bullying, and violence.

For more information, visit www.LEADrugs.org

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