News: MCB Hawaii youths spread red, promote healthy lifestyles
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - This past month, Marine Corps Base Hawaii joined the nation in fighting substance abuse through Red Ribbon Week, which ran from Oct. 23 through 31, 2013.
The current MCB Hawaii Drug Education for Youth program students and the Pyramid Rock Young Marines encouraged Marines, sailors, civilians and their families aboard the installation to learn about the week and its message.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s website, Red Ribbon Week was established in honor of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a special agent with the DEA killed in 1985 while investigating a drug trafficking operation. Red Ribbon Week has been nationally recognized since 1988, promoting education about substance abuse and Camarena’s story.
On Oct. 19, 2013, the Pyramid Rock Young Marines also gave out Red Ribbon Week paraphernalia, such as red ribbons and rubber bracelets, at the base commissary, while recruiting new members and collecting canned goods for charity.
“This will give (the Young Marines) an idea of the danger of drugs (and) the history of Red Ribbon Week and (its) importance,” said Young Marines Sgt. Maj. Storme DiGiovanni.
DiGiovanni said each of the Young Marines were also asked to pass out 10 ribbons to their classmates in school, and share information about the week observance. While at the commissary, the Young Marines asked families to sign a pledge to live a healthy lifestyle, drug free.
“One of the main things we’re doing here today is trying to contact as many youth and families as possible to be and live drug free,” said Lt. Col. John DiGiovanni, the unit commander of the Pyramid Rock Young Marines.
On Oct. 19, more than a dozen DEFY students fought the rain to distribute Red Ribbon Week materials, such as hand sanitizer and dog tags to more than 60 people at youth football games on base.
“Red Ribbon Week is important to spread the word about because it allows for parents, educators and the community to talk about the constant battle against drugs,” said Molly Pope, the Crime Prevention coordinator at the Provost Marshal’s Office. “Red Ribbon Week allows the opportunity to discuss the real issues surrounding drug use and abuse.”
The crime prevention office at PMO coordinates the DEFY program aboard MCB Hawaii. The nationwide educational program, open primarily to military children, offers instruction on topics such as drugs, alcohol, gangs and skill building, as well as hands-on activities. Red Ribbon Week has always been a part of the DEFY curriculum.
Joy Hinojosa, a Drug Abuse Resistance Education program officer from PMO, spread the word about Red Ribbon Week while teaching drug awareness education to fifth grade classes at five different elementary schools, including Mokapu Elementary School. Each fifth grade class received Red Ribbon Week items such as bracelets and dog tags.
The DARE program was established in the early 1980s by the Los Angeles Police Department according to a 1993 program brief from the U.S. Department of Justice. Through DARE, students nationwide learn about drug effects, peer pressure and other related topics. Each year, PMO teaches a 10-week DARE lesson to students at elementary schools attended by military children.
In addition to Red Ribbon Week, substance abuse has been addressed by President Barack Obama, who has annually designated October, “National Substance Abuse Prevention Month,” since 2011.
“Because adult role models play an integral role in preventing youth substance abuse, we must lead by example, adopt positive behaviors, and talk to our kids about living substance-free,” the 2013 White House “National Substance Abuse Prevention Month” proclamation reads.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse website, many adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have abused prescription drugs, which resulted in nearly 3,000 documented deaths by 2010.
In a 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, even children as young as 8th, 10th and 12th-graders abuse prescribed medication and marijuana. The survey also found that teenagers were smoking more marijuana, compared to survey results from five years before.
While drug abuse among some youths appears to have increased over several years, another organization sees a more positive number in alcohol abuse. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reported in an Oct. 22 press release that a national survey found 77 percent of more than 600 high school students do not drink alcohol.
“It benefits children to know that one person set out to make a difference for the community and his legacy lives on in Red Ribbon Week,” Pope said. “Knowing the history and Agent Camarena’s sacrifice illustrates that one person can make a difference.”
For more information about Red Ribbon Week, visit the DEA’s website at http://www.justice.gov/dea/redribbon/RedRibbonCampaigns.html.