By Gabrielle KuholskiOctober 24, 2013
Students within the Fort Huachuca Accommodation School District wore red this week participating in the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the nation, Red Ribbon Week. Each school, in partnership with the Army Substance Abuse Program, or ASAP, raised student awareness on taking a stand against drug abuse.
"The Red Ribbon Campaign is especially dedicated to prevent the use of drugs by our youth. It is [ASAP's] responsibility to work with the schools [and] support them the way they need so the kids can learn to make better choices by being educated," said Rosa Peralta-Imamura, ASAP prevention coordinator.
Red Ribbon Week extended beyond the classrooms involving students in open dialogue. In question and answer-style forums, ASAP Red Ribbon organizers listened to students' concerns and gave them the facts and realities of not only using drugs but alcohol as well.
"[ASAP's] mission is to not just work with the Soldiers and civilians, but with Family members and kids," Peralta-Imamura added.
The prevention coordinator mentioned how much she appreciates the support of the Fort Huachuca Schools and the community. Another way the schools supported Red Ribbon Week was through a variety of activities. Colonel Smith Middle School held a Proclamation Ceremony Monday to kick off the campaign. Gathered in the gym, students and teachers read the Red Ribbon Week 2013 Proclamation with Col. Jeffrey Jennings, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence chief of staff.
After the proclamation, Kevin Mills, ASAP manager, talked to students about the history of Red Ribbon Week and how it honors the memory of Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed in Mexico City while working undercover. Mills explained even as a child, Camarena had hopes and dreams of making a difference.
Mill's remarks seemed to engage students the most as he came right up to them in the bleachers, asking for their attention and participation, especially during the end of the ceremony when everyone recited the Red Ribbon pledge.
"One of things I look at is, you need to get on their level," Mills said, explaining his approach to making an impact on students. "We spend a lot of time trying to bring people up to our level."
He added that he makes instructions easy to understand and also lets children know he cares.
"You do that by being sincere at what you do," he explained.
At General Myer Elementary School, students first celebrated this year's theme, "A Healthy Me is Drug Free!" with a "Kick-Off" walk and run on Monday during their lunch recess. The activity took place on the school track along with ASAP representatives. Several fourth and fifth graders in the peer mediation program had a head-start on Red Ribbon Week Oct. 18 by inserting red cups in the school fence to spell out this year's theme, "A Healthy Me is Drug Free!"
"My peer mediators really enjoyed putting the cups in the fence. [It was] something out of their normal day to come up to the fence to help their school in the cause of being drug free," said Sherry Avery, General Myer behavior coach. "I believe they will always remember being a part of that."
Other activities included a poetry contest with the topic, "better things to do than drugs." Poems were judged by ASAP representatives and the winner will be announced today at General Meyer's quarterly assembly.
At Colonel Johnston Elementary School this week, each day had a different clothing theme such as hat day, favorite sports apparel day and crazy sock day. For the start of Red Ribbon week Monday, students wore red.
Red Ribbon Week ends today in all three schools. Colonel Johnston Elementary will host their Red Ribbon assembly today to close out the week.
"[ASAP tries] to give them all their options. That's why the schools have prepared a lot of activities, to make [students] aware that in a fun way they can invest their time doing something multi-active rather than investing their energy in the consumption of illegal drugs and alcohol," Peralta-Imamura said.