'I Am Drug Free' -- Red ribbons symbolize drug-free lifestyle
Community Police members Spc. Rafaela Gambirazio, left, and Sgt. Zeyna Jimenez instruct Fort Rucker Primary School students on drug and Halloween safety Oct. 20 in honor of Red Ribbon Week.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Red Ribbon Week runs through Oct. 31, and post officials want people to be proactive in preventing drug abuse through this year's theme, "I Am Drug Free."

Community members are encouraged to wear red ribbons or clothing throughout the week to "get people talking and developing curiosity (about the red ribbons)," said Jesse Hunt, Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator.

"Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children through a commitment to drug prevention education and a pledge to live drug free,with the ultimate goal being a drug free world," said CW2 Alex MacKenzie, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment drug prevention leader.

"This is the most successful (drug prevention) campaign out there. If you tell kids or teens negative stuff, they stop hearing you. The focal point of the red ribbon program is positive. This program shows you success stories," he continued.

While servicemembers cannot wear ribbons or special emblems on their uniforms, Hunt suggests they display the reminders on other gear - ID badges, helmet bags, briefcases, etc. - to show their support.

"Drug abuse is a national war. Highlighting that and keeping awareness reduces abuse, injury and death," he said.

To help promote the topic, Community Police members educated Fort Rucker Primary School children last week on the importance of drug safety.

"We stress not taking any (medication) unless parents give it to you, whether it's a prescription or just a vitamin," said RenAfA Hammond, school guidance counselor.

She said all Department of Defense schools acknowledge the week and emphasize its importance in eliminating youth drug use.

"Red Ribbon Week is a reminder of the dangers of drug abuse and the benefits of a healthy, drug-free lifestyle," Hammond said.

School nurses will educate primary school students on drug and alcohol safety and misuse, and the consequences of substance abuse, during classes this week.

Fort Rucker Elementary School students will showcase their support for the week during their annual red ribbon parade Friday afternoon.

Red Ribbon Week is not only for children, though; it incorporates entire Families and adults. To include everyone in the celebration, MacKenzie and 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt. unit members hosted a 5K run on Saturday.

Money raised from run registrants will be used to purchase drug prevention education materials for the post schools, MacKenzie said.

The red ribbon campaign began in 1985 when Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena was murdered by drug traffickers in Mexico City, according to the National Family Partnership Web site, at www.nfp.org.

For more information or to obtain help for drug abuse, call ASAP at 255-7509.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16