Assets In Action: Red Ribbon Week celebrates drug-free living

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

If you didn’t know, this is Red Ribbon week. I hope you might take a moment to ask the children or grandchildren in your life, if school did anything for Red Ribbon week. Nationally the campaign slogan is YOLO for You Only Live Once, so do it drug free.

While most schools try to send the message about not drinking or being drug free, almost anything healthy fits into the making healthy choices category, which should make the conversation easy to approach.

While I love that schools attempt to send message, which I believe adds to creating a safe school climate, we need to carry the message from our homes, community organizations, churches, synagogues and more. Diet wise if I only had to make healthy choices while I was at work for 8 hours a day and then did all the bad things the other 16 hours a day, things wouldn’t work out.

So we need to have the conversations with our kids and send the message that we as adults make healthy choices every day too. 

Here’s what some of the data has to say about our youth. Did you know that 26 percent of our ninth through twelfth graders admit to being current drinkers? 15% of those drinkers admit to being binge drinkers and sadly there’s even a category that asks if they have had 10 drinks in one sitting.

If we look a little younger, those same students well 13% of them say they had their first drink before the age of 13. If that is the case, I sure hope the parents of every 12 year old has a conversation with their children soon.

During Red Ribbon week, many schools do plantings in Pledge Gardens. The students often sign a pledge to be drug free, which are hung with pride in the building. Then students plant a bulb, which weathers the winter storm and to show their beauty in the spring. April is underage drinking prevention month, when many of the bulbs bloom. The bloom reminds youth of the promise they made some six months before in the same school year.

We need to teach our kids to weather the storm. We need to show them that not every celebration needs alcohol to be a good one. We need to model the behaviors of reducing our own stress, eating right, getting some kind of exercise and looking to improve our own sleep habits before we can expect them to do better.

I often wonder how we can expect so much of them, when as a state, our drunk driving rates are pretty abominable. If you would like to see that data, contact Kirsten Bell our DWI Coordinator for more information.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Executive Director of Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA).