By Mary O’KEEFE
During Red Ribbon Week, students in the area were given information about making good choices and staying healthy. Glendale Police Officer Joe Allen dropped by Fremont Elementary School as part of the school’s Red Ribbon Week.
“[Police, parents and teachers] are all concerned that you grow up and have a healthy life,” Allen said to the assembly of students.
He asked kids what Red Ribbon Week was about. The kids answered, “Don’t take drugs,” “Eat healthy” and “Don’t smoke.”
Allen also covered the growing problem of prescription drug use.
“Is it ever a good idea to take someone else’s medicine?” Allen asked.
“No!” screamed the audience.
At one point, Allen had the kids line up and then he threw a ball into a cardboard box. Using both eyes, it was a relatively easy task, but then he had them cover one eye, mimicking what happens when performances are impaired due to alcohol or drugs. Making a basket was more difficult.
Allen had invited two members of the Glendale Lions Club to the assembly. The club raises funds and supports anti-drug programs. He also invited DEA Special Agent Christopher Wilson.
Although the students were young, from kindergarteners to sixth graders, the message promoted by Red Ribbon Week is designed to educate kids at an early stage. It is hoped that repetitive information and constant education will help kids make good choices when they are older.
“The whole point [of the program] is to make kids aware of what drugs do and help prevent the [problem],” Wilson said.
He added that the program targets kids from kindergarten through high school, modifying the events for the older kids while retaining the message of making good choices.
“My opinion is Red Ribbon Week is very effective,” he added.
Red Ribbon began as “Camarena Clubs” named for Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique (Kiki) Camarena who was killed by drug dealers in Mexico in 1985. Agent Camarena’s friends began the club in his hometown of Calexico, Calif. They handed out red ribbons and students pledged to lead a drug-free life in honor of the agent’s sacrifice.
Since then the program has grown and expanded nationwide. The message continues to be drug-free and to make healthy choices.