By Cpl. Lee Min-hwi (USAG-Yongsan)November 5, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - "Step it up. A call to action!" is the theme of the National Red Ribbon Week celebrated by the Yongsan community Oct. 20-24.
National Red Ribbon Week increases awareness about the dangers of drugs. As part of the local observation, Seoul American Middle and High School students reaffirmed their intention to maintain drug-free lifestyles.
"This week is designated by the Department of Defense in recognition for Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena who was tortured and murdered by drug dealers in Mexico 23 years ago," said Vanessa Mitchell, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Army Substance Abuse Program manager.
"His efforts were to reduce the drugs coming to the United States," she continued. "This week not only honors his memory, but also educates people about the dangers of drugs and increases the awareness of keeping drug-free community."
The Yongsan Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Service prepared daily middle school activities: Hugs not Drugs; Score Against Drugs-Be Drug Free; Sock it to Drugs; Turn Your Back on Drugs; and Rally in Red Day.
Additionally, the high school presented a short seminar about Red Ribbon Week Oct. 29.
"The middle school kids just love these activities," said Geri Fortner, ASACS counselor."At the middle school level, there are many events like art contest and wearing crazy socks and prizes will be handed out. At the high school, we will be sending an antidrug message. The 8th Army Band will be coming, too."
The Yongsan Commissary donated nearly 400 shopping bags to the elementary and middle school, so students could decorate them with antidrug message. These bags went back to the Commissary to remind the shoppers of keeping their families safe from dangers of drugs.
"The drug problem in our community is minimal, but there are still drugs out somewhere available," Fortner said. "Once drugs start to affect the developmental system, it permanently alters their brain chemistry. So, it is important to get them up front and know the dangers of drugs."
Yongsan community members also participated in a Red Ribbon 5K Run Oct. 25 at Collier Field House to bring attention to the week.