Red Ribbon Week Warns youth against drugs

by Rebecca Burylo
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/1/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.-- -- Students came wearing their pajamas today to Maxwell Elementary/Middle School to "Dream of a Drug-Free World" for the last day of this year's Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 28-Nov. 1.

Every fall, Red Ribbon Week, a nationwide campaign, brings drug awareness to the children of MEMS through fun, student-led activities, themed costume days and a pledge to be drug-free.

This year, the week's theme is "A Healthy Me is Drug-Free," demonstrating how a healthy lifestyle is also a drug-free lifestyle, explained Amy Rogers and Catherine Martin, co-sponsors of the school's National Junior Honor Society.

Rogers and Martin are both teachers at MEMS and sponsors of the week's events.

"Each day has a different theme to raise awareness for students to be drug-free," Rogers said.

The middle school's National Junior Honor Society has been actively engaged in the planning of Red Ribbon Week. Collectively, NJHS students organized the themes for each day, made morning announcements, hosted a parade and set up a pledge wall.

Damon Moore, student president of NJHS, who has been a participant of Red Ribbon Week at MEMS since the sixth grade, now has a chance to teach younger students what he has learned.

"Being a military child, I've moved a lot, and I've been to a lot of public schools. I've seen what it [drugs] does to older ages, so I hope I can steer, not only my peers, but smaller children away from that life," Moore said.

"Drugs can and will ruin your life," he said.

Similarly, Carter Bonnell, NJHS secretary and treasurer, hopes their efforts this week make a lasting impact.

"I think by us being drug-free and sponsoring this drug-free program that they'll learn, and then they can teach other students when they move away," Bonnell said. "I want them to leave this school and be aware that drugs aren't healthy for them," he said.

Monday kicked off the campaign against drugs with a pep rally as youth wore their team jerseys to "Team Up Against Drugs."

Redy Ribbon, the mascot, energized the crowd as Col. Trent Edwards, 42nd Air Base Wing commander, reminded everyone to say "no" to drugs.

Afterward, students paraded down the street, chanting and waving banners in protest of drug abuse until they reached the arboretum. There, the children tied bright red ribbons around the trees, symbolizing their drug-free pledge.

The 42nd Medical Group Drug Demand Reduction Program also provided the children with backpacks filled with goodies, school supplies and information about the hazards drugs have on the body.

On Tuesday, children danced to 80s tunes while dressed in leotards, leg warmers and tacky workout clothes for the theme "Too Fit for Drugs." Wearing red from top to bottom was the trend for Wednesday, as students came "Red-dy to be Drug-Free."

On Halloween on Thursday, children wore their spookiest costumes in an effort to "Scare Off Drugs."

Each year Rogers and Martin sponsor the campaign, they witness the benefits the middle school's leadership has on educating their peers and younger students.

"Organizing the event gives them responsibility and a chance to see what it takes to pull off an event," Rogers explained. "It also allows them to learn something new from their research and they are, in turn, able to lead the younger students to be drug-free."