By Alia Naffouj, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsOctober 31, 2016
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Nov. 1, 2016) - Camp Zama's Army Substance Abuse Program helped Zama students celebrate Red Ribbon Week Oct. 24 to 28 with this year's theme "You Only Live Once. Be Drug Free."
Red Ribbon Week - a national campaign held Oct. 21-31 that brings drugs abuse awareness to schools - is a program that started back in the 1980s in honor of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent Kiki Camerena, whose goal was to educate youth on drug prevention, according to RaShonda Labrador, ASAP manager.
The "YOLO. Be Drug Free"campaign focused on making healthy, confident life choices.
The week highlighted substance abuse prevention, including over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and illegal substances.
"It is really geared towards our youth population. From young age elementary school all the way up into to early adulthood, "said Labrador.
ASAP representatives provided information on drug abuse prevention and how to thrive for classes at Arnn Elementary School throughout the week.
Arnn students also participated in daily dress-up activities.
Students in fifth and sixth grade had the opportunity to create posters to represent a drug free life.
One teacher said she hopes students understand the importance of staying focused on their dreams and not letting negative things like substance abuse sidetrack them.
"I want them to understand that they have brilliance and potential and not to let anything stand in their way as they grow up from achieving their goals," said Michelle Bolin, Arnn fifth-grade teacher.
"I think if you see something that you're not familiar with - that's in a bottle or is just wrapped in paper - then do not mess with it cause you never know what it could be," said Katelyn Grubbs, fifth-grade student at Arnn.
Students seemed to grasp the message.
"I want to be a police officer, and I don't want to take drugs because I want to pursue my dream," said Timothy Armstrong, fifth-grade student at Arnn.
Zama American High School and Middle School had some lunchtime activities provided by ASAP.
ASAP sponsored a prevention table that included a quiz to test students on various types of drugs and the consequences of taking them.
Labrador said that peer pressure definitely happens, especially in middle and high school.
"I always just tell them ... be unapologetically you... you do what you want to do; don't fall into the trap of doing what someone else says is fun," said Labrador.
Students lined up to try ASAP's drunk impairment goggles, which simulate what it is like when someone has had too much to drink.
"The goggles showed that doing anything under the influence will seriously mess up your life," said John Harris, seventh-grade student at ZAMS. "It's really hard to think, or move in anyway, while under the influence."
"One of the biggest things is we just really wanted them to take away what it was like to be in that state and what would they tell someone so that they don't end up in a bad situation," said Labrador.
The students also had the opportunity to take a pledge to be drug free.
"It (the pledge) means that I'm gonna stay drug free, and that I'm not going to engage in any risky behavior involving drugs because it will seriously mess up my life," said John.
Students have many resources available to help them. There are imbedded military family life counselors that are inside the schools, school psychologists, school counselors, and parents said Labrador.
"If you do find yourself in a situation where you don't think that you're strong enough to say no, at least go find an adult," said Labrador, "whether it's your parent, a school official, or someone in the community that you trust ... they can help you to get out of a hard situation."