Just Say No!

Published 1:46 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

By By MaryClaire Foster
Area students were doing a lot more than just saying no to drugs last week.
They were writing it on posters and bookmarks, wearing it on ribbons, reading it in handouts and yelling it at assemblies.
To commemorate Red Ribbon Week, which is observed annually the last full week of October, area schools held activities throughout the week to teach prevention and raise awareness.
Red Ribbon Week began in the 1980s after Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and murdered after being ousted while working undercover with drug cartels in Mexico. People in his hometown, Calexico, Calif. began wearing red ribbons to show their support, and in 1988 Red Ribbon Week became nationally recognized.
For one of the activities of the week, Escambia County Board of Education School Superintendent Billy Hines secured funding for Chief Mike Lambert of the Flomaton Police Department and other members of local law enforcement agencies to visit schools in the county.
Officers brought the helicopter used to search for drug offenders, one of the drug dogs and held assemblies.
McGruff the crime dog also visited schools with younger children,
Lambert said reaching children early on is key in preventing drug use.
Carol Middleton, counselor at Huxford Elementary School, said starting young is a necessity.
Escambia County High School Counselor Minnie Stallworth said her school, because of the age of the students, not only focused on prevention, but on stopping the use of drugs.
Escambia County Middle School Counselor Cordia Lee said they focused on how drugs affect the brain and academic performance.
A.C. Moore Elementary school counselor Jean Sands said her school took the week as an opportunity to promote more than drug awareness.
The focus of Red Ribbon Week is not only awareness of the dangers of illegal drugs, but also illegal use of legal drugs.
Middleton said teachers and staff also spoke with children at Huxford about the difference in good drugs and bad drugs.
Various activities at the schools included poster decorating contests, bookmark decorating contests, an essay contest, wear red to school day and the wearing of ribbons and stickers with “Say No to Drugs” messages.

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