FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 20, 2011) -- Fort Rucker's Department of Public Safety, Army Substance Abuse Program and installation schools will join forces to help prevent drug use during Red Ribbon week Oct. 24-29.

Fort Rucker's Red Ribbon week activities include a parade by students of Fort Rucker Elementary School, a fall festival hosted by Fort Rucker Primary School, and events from ASAP aimed at educating the community, said Shannon Vickery, ASAP office manager.

"Education is the key to prevention. The goal of Red Ribbon week is for the focus of the youth in our community to be on drugs and the harmful effects they can have," she said.

Fort Rucker Elementary School will have daily events recognizing Red Ribbon week, culminating in the annual parade from the school to the post theater Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. Elementary School principal, Vicki Gilmer, said that each year the school coordinates with the parent-teacher association and community leaders to promote a safe and healthy lifestyle.

The theme for this year is "It's Up to Me to be Drug Free." The 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band, McGruff the Crime Dog, and officers and firefighters from the Fort Rucker DPS will all accompany the students in the parade.

"Red Ribbon Week is such an exciting time of year. It gives the school a great platform to educate students against the use of drugs as well as making good life choices daily. It is an ideal way for schools and communities to unite and take a visible stand against substance abuse," said Gilmer.

ASAP will also support the elementary school's parade and host an outreach event to Fort Rucker Girl Scouts Oct. 22. Involvement in Red Ribbon week is a chance for ASAP to educate the community, starting with its youngest members, said Denise Clarke, ASAP Risk Reduction program coordinator

"Red Ribbon week is the perfect opportunity for parents to sit down with their children and talk about drugs and drug prevention. Many times, a child's first introduction to drugs will probably be misusing their parents' over-the-counter prescriptions or inhaling household substances. Kids are introduced to drugs by their peers, so parents can take this week to also talk about peer pressure and the importance of making good choices," said Clarke.

While Red Ribbon is aimed at younger members of the community, ASAP will also conduct an event that aims to eliminate prescription drug abuse by all members of the Army Family, said Clarke. ASAP will be partnering with Lyster Pharmacy to have a drop box for unused prescription drugs in the Fort Rucker Post Exchange on National Take Back Prescription Day Oct. 29.

"The earlier we start educating our children, the higher chance they will most likely say no to drugs," said Vickery.

For more information on Red Ribbon week and drug prevention, contact ASAP at 255-7509.