JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, 40 percent of 12th graders said they have used a drug at least once in the past year. Red Ribbon Week, which takes place October 23-31, is an awareness program that began in 1985 as a way to show opposition to drugs as stated by the Get Smart About Drugs foundation.
Marrington Elementary School is celebrating Red Ribbon Week with various events and activities such as spirit days, fundraisers and an assembly featuring narcotic detection military working dogs. Students are always encouraged to not take drugs, but during Red Ribbon Week there is extra emphasis and students are given strategies to say no when confronted with negative choices.
“Red Ribbon Week is a week celebrated throughout the country where we remind children to stay away from drugs,” said Ann Schuler, a school counselor at Marrington Elementary School.
Master Sgt. Maurice Ferguson, a drug demand program manager assigned to the 315th Aerospace Medical Squadron and Staff Sgt. Christopher Morrison, a program manager with the 628th Force Support Squadron at the fitness center, also spoke at the military working dog event.
“We come out and educate the public,” said Morrison. “We go to the school and the Youth Center and inform them of the effects of drugs and how it can hinder their career and lifestyle. We let them know they shouldn’t do drugs because they’re bad for you.”
Morrison and Ferguson believe Red Ribbon Week is effective at influencing the children’s decisions.
“The demonstration grabs the attention of the kids,” said Morrison. “They are always listening. It gives us a chance to make an impact in their lifestyle and lets them know they have support.”
They both feel the students already know what is right and wrong. Morrison and Ferguson are primarily there to emphasize the importance of saying no to drugs and further educate students of the negative effects.
“You can tell that they are learning,” said Ferguson. “They know more than we give them credit for. We are here to make them more aware and re-enforce that drugs are not good.”
Both think that playing an active part in this event betters them as Airmen.
“Knowing that I have to come out here and be a representative for the Air Force to the students allows me to keep myself on point,” said Ferguson.
Schuler believes personnel from Joint Base Charleston play a huge part in the success of Red Ribbon Week for the school by providing support, activities and entertainment.
“These incredibly wonderful people at the Drug Demand and Reduction program are so kind to us,” said Schuler.
Schuler said that besides the assistance they get from the DDRP, the military working dogs are an exciting feature for the students. She believes that Joint Base Charleston gives them an enormous amount of support and without the base, the week wouldn’t be the same.
“I love Joint Base Charleston. We are Joint Base Charleston. These people are Joint Base Charleston,” said Schuler. “It’s the best place to work.”
Schuler feels that when the students get older and go on to higher grades in school, they are more likely to make bad decisions, but educating them at a young age could decrease that possibility.
“All you can do is plant the seeds and that’s my job. I’m a seed planter,” said Schuler.