By Wilmarie Lopez, MA, Behavioral Health Therapist
The Red Ribbon campaign is the oldest and largest annual drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of young people during Red Ribbon Week from October 23 – October 31. The mission is to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a drug free America. The Guidance/Care Center’s (G/CC) Prevention Program hosted several activities during Red Ribbon Week at Coral Shores High School in Tavernier, FL. These activities were made possible with a collaboration between G/CC staff, the Monroe County Coalition, and Coral Shores High School.
The activities kicked off with a surprise flash mob dance by the Coral Shores Canettes and the PBIS Club (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support). During the lunch periods, music started in the school courtyard and dancers emerged from the crowd wearing bright red t-shirts provided by the G/CC. They put on sunglasses and joined in a dance that ended in the formation of a double loop ribbon. The sunglasses were honoring this year’s theme, “Drug Free Looks Like Me,” a reminder that every day, Americans across the country make significant daily contributions to their communities by being the best they can be because they live drug free!
Throughout the week, the students participated in different activities to show their support. There was a “wear red day,’ a “wear a hat day’ (to put a “Cap” on drugs), and a “wear funny socks” day (to put a “Sock” on drugs). Students also had the opportunity to experience the Fatal Vision impairment goggles. These were supplied to Coral Shores High School by the Monroe County Coalition and delivered memorable lessons on topics like impaired driving, underage drinking, and other substance abuse issues. Participants performed simple activities or sobriety tests with and without the goggles on. Performing the activities twice lets participants experience their capabilities while unimpaired and then impaired. The goggles cause the wearer to display impaired behaviors that are typical at various BAC levels. It was an effective educational experience. The Monroe County Coalition also provided red ribbon giveaways to remind students of the event and what they learned.
The flash mob activity and other events were so spectacular that they took the front page in the Upper Keys Weekly newspaper increasing awareness in the Florida Keys about G/CC’s prevention programs!