Kaiserslautern students throw drugs, alcohol, tobacco ‘in the bag’

Christine June
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Vogelweh commissary shoppers who choose “paper” instead of “plastic” for their groceries Oct. 30 will be helping the KMC choose a better future.
Kaiserslautern American Middle School students are now busily decorating as many as 400 grocery bags with anti-substance abuse messages for the 415th Base Support Battalion’s Red Ribbon Week wrap-up event held 10 a.m. Oct. 30 at the Vogelweh commissary.

“Red Ribbon Week is important to me because I am a mother of two boys and because of my job, I see first hand how drugs can destroy not only a career but an entire life,” said Leslie A. Sweeney, 26th Area Support Group’s Installation Biochemical Testing coordinator. “It’s vitally important we get the message out. Drugs destroy lives.”

National Red Ribbon Week happens every year during the last week in October to encourage parents, children and communities to take a visible stand against drugs, alcohol and tobacco use and abuse. This year it takes place Oct. 23 to 30.
“It’s about responsible choices,” said Reagan E. Morris, Kaiserslautern American High School’s Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Service counselor. “What are your choices? What are you going to do to your body?”
This year’s theme for the 415th BSB event is “Drug Free: I have the Power.” In fact, all the events at the KAMS and KAHS will go along with the theme, letting students know that they have choices and responsibilities when it comes to substance use and abuse.

Besides decorating grocery bags, a poster contest and theme days, from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29, are also events scheduled at the KAMS. Posters are due to middle school’s substance abuse counselor by Oct. 28 and will be judged by a committee, including the 415th BSB Commander Lt. Col. Erik O. Daiga. There will be two winners per grade who will enjoy an ice cream party.
Monday is “Wear Red” in support of Red Ribbon Week. Tuesday is “Boozers are Losers,” where students who know a negative fact about alcohol will receive Red Ribbon Week promotional items. Wednesday is “Hugs not Drugs,” where students will bring their stuffed animals to school. Thursday is “Write off Drugs,” where students who know a negative fact about drugs receive a pencil. Friday is “Scared Straight,” where students can wear their Halloween costumes to school and receive candy.

“Red Ribbon Week is important because it offers us an opportunity to do outreach not just with the kids but with the community as a whole,” said Michael V. Roots, Kaiserslautern middle school’s ASACS counselor. “But it’s also important for people to be aware that drugs, alcohol and tobacco are available in our community year round, and children and their families need the community’s support to be able to avoid drug use and abuse.”

At KAHS, Mrs. Morris will be teaching substance abuse curriculum tailored to business, psychology and English classes. She is also providing information regarding signs and symptoms of substance abuse and use to high school drama students who will perform a play to middle school students on “Scared Straight” theme day.
The Red Ribbon campaign was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered Kiki Camarena, an undercover drug enforcement officer, in 1985. In his memory, friends and neighbors began wearing red badges of satin as a symbol of his belief that one person can make a difference.

The observance now employs red ribbons as a symbol of one’s personal commitment to a substance-free lifestyle. Boy Scouts of America Troop 69 will be handing out red ribbons and prizes at the 415th BSB’s Red Ribbon Week wrap-up event.
For more information on the 415th BSB event, call Ms. Sweeney at 486-7213. For more information on KAMS Red Ribbon Week events, call Mr. Roots at 489-7453, ext. 512. For more information on KAHS Red Ribbon Week events, call Mrs. Morris at 489-7300, ext. 363.