Students all across the Juneau School District are participating in an array of substance abuse awareness activities for Red Ribbon Week.
The beginnings of the drug and alcohol abuse awareness programming started in 1985 to honor DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who was working in Mexico, about to turn in information on Mexico's biggest drug traffickers when he was abducted, tortured and murdered.
Audra Henderson, a substance abuse counselor at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School and an employee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, said more than 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon Week, honoring the fallen agent by creating awareness about the many dangers of drug abuse.
Heather Kroll, substance abuse counselor at Thunder Mountain High School, also an NCADD employee, said other reasons Red Ribbon Week were started were to create awareness of not only the dangers of drugs, but also the drug war and cartels.
"It's important for people to be aware of it and for students to learn healthy activities so they don't go that route," Kroll said. "So they don't use substances throughout their school life."
Henderson said she believes it's also important to bring drug and alcohol abuse awareness education to students since it isn't part of their regular curriculum.
"I think everybody can agree it's a pretty important topic to talk about," she said.
This is the third year Henderson has had activities at DZ. On Monday students played Slam Dunk basketball while learning about Red Ribbon Week and more activities are planned throughout the week. Kroll said Thunder Mountain is having a relay race today with the use of drunk goggles to simulate being under the influence of alcohol and show how it impairs people. She said another activity is drug bingo, where students win by answering questions related to drug and alcohol use.
Henderson said some teachers have gotten involved and have students journaling and drawing. There also will be a door decorating contest.
At Juneau-Douglas High School, students will be planting red tulips again. Henderson said students particularly get excited about the poetry slam.
"We are part of a larger cause, and what's so great is that we're participating in something so many people are participating in," Henderson said. "It's a great way to kick off the year as well, so we can continue to talk about drug and alcohol prevention the rest of the school year."
Local businesses have sponsored the week, providing for activities and prizes.
"We can't thank the community enough for all of their donations and support," Henderson said.
For more information on the national Red Ribbon Week go to http://bit.ly/dviG3l.
Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.