Schools working to curb drug use

Published 7:42 am Monday, October 26, 2009

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

Getting a drug-free message out to students and the community is a daunting task, but it is one that school counselors, community educators and prevention coordinators take on every day.
With Oct. 25-31 named as Red Ribbon Week across the United States, counselors and other officials are targeting the week for comprehensive education plans for students, faculty, parents and the community.
Monica Shockley, prevention coordinator with Southwest Alabama Mental Health Board, said getting the message out about substance abuse is essential to prevention.
County and city schools will also be focusing on drug abuse awareness and prevention throughout the week with a variety of presentations.
Escambia County Schools Superintendent William Hines said the week will be used in the system to raise awareness about drugs and encourage healthy choices.
Shockley said she is currently meeting with counselors and other school officials to bring additional yearlong awareness programs into the schools.
At Brewton Elementary School, Counselor Tammy Smith said students will be treated to a special program on Thursday.
The same program will be presented on the campus at W.S. Neal Elementary School at 1 p.m. Thursday.
All law enforcement agencies in the county will take part in events including McGruff The Crime Dog, Stranger Danger Presentations, Halloween Safety Tips and a special visit from the Airborne Law Enforcement Helicopter.  Working with the Sheriff’s Department to secure the helicopter is Dennis Adams of Timberline Homes.
Brewton Middle School Counselor Sherry Hutto said a variety of awareness lessons will be presented to students throughout the week.
Hutto said she, along with teachers at the school, will be presenting lessons in the classroom that will encourage children to remain drug-free and to bring awareness to the dangers of using drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Donna L. Revel, Title IV coordinator for Escambia County Schools, said the week holds many opportunities for education and awareness programs,
The programs offered at the schools in the area are important and vital in the fight against drug use, however, Shockley said more information needs to be presented to the public at-large.
Shockley said plans are being made to present vital information to the public are being made for the meeting.
Congress established Red Ribbon Week in 1988 to commemorate the work of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, who was murdered in the line of duty and has come to represent the belief that one person can make a difference in the fight against drugs.  The Red Ribbon campaign promotes this belief and encourages a drug-free lifestyle and involvement in drug prevention efforts.

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