D.A.R.E. is the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, which is presented in schools throughout the country by uniformed police officers. The program aims to raise awareness about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, and it teaches kids in kindergarten through high school how to resist peer pressure. As a student, you may be asked to create a D.A.R.E. poster for a class project, or you may want to design one for a local or statewide contest.

Know Your Audience

The audience for your D.A.R.E. poster will likely be your peers. Think about what is most important to them. For example, if you are in the fifth grade, your classmates may care a lot about making and keeping friends. Knowing that, you could create a poster about how the friends that are worth keeping won't pressure you into using drugs or alcohol. Keeping your audience in mind will also help you choose the right statistics and present the information in the right way. For example, fifth-graders may not be persuaded much by statistics about how smoking can kill them, but they may be convinced by information about how smoking is not attractive to the opposite sex.

Choose a Focus

The D.A.R.E. program teaches about the dangers of all kinds of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. It also touches on issues like peer pressure and the importance of education. Before you begin designing your poster, consider which of these issues you want to be your focus. Choose an issue that will be most important to your audience. For example, crack is not likely to be a big problem for sixth-graders, but being tempted to smoke cigarettes or marijuana could be. By choosing a single focus for your poster, you can make a bigger impact with your data and visual design.

Make an Impact

Most people won't stop long to look at your poster or really take in its message. You may have less than a few seconds to grab a person's attention. You need to create a message or visual design that makes an impact with only a few words or a single image.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America had a successful ad with the image of a simple egg and the words This is your brain followed by an image of a frying egg and This is your brain on drugs. Brainstorm ways that you can make an impact with as few words and images as possible. One of the best ways to create an impact with your message is to make a strong emotional or personal appeal.

Refine the Design

Your poster should be visually appealing and easy to scan. Choose large fonts and few words. Choose photos or images that draw in the focus and send a clear message. Create a layout that the eye will naturally follow, such as arranging information from left to right or top to bottom. Make the text or photos that are most important larger than the other elements on the poster. Check for balance between the text and photos, and a good ratio of color and white space. All the elements of your poster should work together to create a visually striking image.