JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Students and faculty at Randolph Elementary School celebrated the nationally recognized Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31, with "I'm SUPER because I'm Drug Free!" as this year's local theme.
Red Ribbon campaigns, which began in 1985, promote awareness of drug and alcohol prevention and are opportunities to "fill students' minds" with knowledge about the legal, social and family issues associated with drug and alcohol use, and also help them understand they can make deliberate choices to keep drugs and alcohol from destroying their lives, Allison Harley, Randolph Elementary School third-grade teacher, said.
Students were encouraged to dress in red clothing during the week-long event, and the school's student council passed out glow sticks and bookmarks "as an incentive and visual reminder to stay drug free," Harley said.
McGruff the Crime Dog visited the school as part of the 902nd Security Forces Squadron's involvement.
"We wanted something fun and interactive for the kids," Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Simmons, 902nd SFS NCO in charge of police services, said. "At their age, you can notice trends developing, so it's very important to motivate them early to be on the right path."
Along with daily announcements urging children to collectively say no to drugs and alcohol, Randolph Elementary School staff also incorporated prevention messages into their daily lessons.
"As teachers, we model and stress to the children important current events and real-world issues," Harley said. "Every moment is a teachable moment."
While serious issues are discussed during the campaign, student council members said that having fun complements the educational process.
"Red Ribbon Week is important to teach kids to stay off drugs," Jackson Hodges, Randolph Elementary School fifth-grader and student council president, said. "Red Ribbon Week is a fun week where we get to play games, dress up and learn the importance of not doing drugs."
Grace Fields, Randolph Elementary School fourth-grader and student council representative, agreed.
"I enjoy Red Ribbon Week because of the dressing up to show people that doing drugs is not fun," she said. "It's important because it teaches people not to do drugs and to be healthy."
The campaign ultimately represents an opportunity for parents and teachers to guide children in a positive direction they'll lead the rest of their lives.
"It's extremely important to show children at an early age that drugs and alcohol are not part of a healthy or successful lifestyle," Harley said. "We need to appropriately talk about real-world issues with kids to help them become independent thinkers to have the ability to distinguish right from wrong."