By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
The Tulalip Tribes Tobacco Cessation Program helped Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary (QCT) students celebrate Red Ribbon Week from October 24 to 28. This year’s theme was “You Only Live Once. Be Drug Free.” Students, parents and staff were invited to participate in daily activities to promote positive, healthy living.
Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign held during the final week of October and brings drug abuse awareness to schools. Think of it as a modern day equivalent to the D.A.R.E. program for the previous generations. It’s a program that started back in the 1980s in honor of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Kiki Camerena, whose goal was to educate youth on drug prevention.
The ‘YOLO. Be Drug Free’ campaign focused on making healthy, confident life choices. The week highlighted substance abuse prevention, including over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and illegal substances.
“The Tulalip Tribes and Marysville School District partnered to create a special month-long program called Unity Month and it was in full effect during October,” stated Ashley Tiedeman, Tobacco Cessation Program Coordinator. “Each week our goal was to focus on a different topic, such as domestic violence and bullying prevention. For the last week of October the topic was suicide prevention for the older kids, grades 6-12, while the younger kids, K-5, got Red Ribbon Week.”
On Monday, October 24, the tobacco and drug prevention campaign kicked off. QCT students and staff were encouraged to wear the color red and all received an invitation to a special breakfast before the morning assembly. The youthful minds who attended the breakfast got a nutritious, fruit-filled breakfast to snack on while Ashley and her colleague Rachel Steeve handed out custom #UnityMonth bracelets and stickers. The pair of Smoking Cessation experts used the time to also educate students on the health risks and concerns of smoking cigarettes. When hearing of all the deadly chemicals and nastiness in cigarettes the children’s focused faces immediately mirrored that of Mr. Yuk.
Throughout the week QCT students had the opportunity to take a pledge to be drug-free, stand together as links in a unified chain to live healthy lifestyles, look to the future while wearing the colors of their favorite college, and complete several drug-free activity worksheets that could be exchanged for popcorn at lunch time.
“The kids were so excited and they really got into Red Ribbon Week because the activities changed every day. The activities made the kids so eager to learn and they really emphasize all the benefits of being drug-free,” said Moiya Rossnagle, Family Liaison for QCT. “Watching them fill out their pledge cards to be drug and alcohol-free was a definite highlight.”
Red Ribbon Week came to an end with the conclusion of the final activity, a door decorating competition. Each classroom spent the week decorating their doors for the contest held on Friday, October 28. The winning classroom would be awarded a Popsicle party, so needless to say the stakes couldn’t be any higher.
“We wanted to get all the classes excited and what better way than to have a friendly competition where the kids could get creative and really show different ways to promote living healthy and being drug-free,” marveled Ashley. “The kids put so much effort and thought into decorating their classroom doors. It was just amazing to see what each class came up with. Each class did such a great job that we couldn’t pick just one winner, they were all winners for celebrating Red Ribbon Week.”
Ultimately, each class was deemed a winner and all the students got to bask in the glory that is a Popsicle party. Hopefully, while enjoying the yummy treat each student took a moment to reflect on what they’d learned over the past week. Understanding the importance of staying focused on their dreams and not letting negative things like substance abuse sidetrack them from all the potential and greatness a drug-free life has to offer. After all, there are many more Popsicle parties to be had.
Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn,gov