Jacksonville High School students are taking a pledge, for Red Ribbon Week this week.
Red Ribbon Week promotes drug, alcohol, and tobacco prevention and awareness, and is recognized yearly during the last week of October.
Students are participating in different theme days this week, and are given incentives to stay drug, alcohol and tobacco free during the current school year.
Sherri McLaughlin, a counselor at J.H.S. says that local law enforcement helps the school faculty with both the awareness and incentive for the program.
“The event brings awareness to drugs, alcohol, and substance abuse, such as tobacco and vaping use, which we are really hitting hard in the high school this week. We are asking students to pledge to be drug alcohol and tobacco free fro this year, and hopefully throughout their life for a healthier lifestyle.
The incentive is that the Jacksonville Police Department and Crime Stoppers have some grant money they can use toward substance abuse prevention, and they were allowed to buy some prizes for the program. So if the students pledge to be drug, tobacco and alcohol free, they can enter their name into a drawing for an iPhone 11.”
Students answer a trivia question related to Red Ribbon Week awareness along with taking the substance free pledge to enter the drawing for the iPhone. The drawing will be held on Friday during the last lunch period of the day, sometime around 1:00 pm.
McLaughlin says that abuse of different substances is a problem that won’t go away overnight, but that the hope is that Red Ribbon Week will help students carry the awareness and prevention throughout the year. And that teens are more likely to become addicted while they are still growing developing.
“Teenagers in their developmental stage, have the mindset that I am invincible, those things aren’t going to happen to me, and they are curious and they are trying new things and they have peer pressure. There are a lot of things that unfortunately go into being a teenager in today’s world, with a lot of the pressures that they have.
Unfortunately a lot of times they will try something and before they know it, they have an addiction. The thing we really try to impress upon teenagers is that, your brain is still developing and so it can change the way the brain functions when you start entering substances in, especially in that developmental stage.”
Crime Stoppers and the Jacksonville Police Department teamed up with the Crimson Courage, SADD Chapter at JHS to support the event.
McLaughlin said that the Crimson Courage group put a lot of effort into supporting Red Ribbon Week.
“Crimson Courage is a SADD Chapter which is Students Against Destructive Decision making. They decorated the school in red, with messages like, be smart- don’t start, friends don’t let friends do drugs, and different new messages throughout the week.
We have a theme day where they dress up and those messages are delivered, like don’t get twisted up in drugs, and one of the things is they answer the trivia question and you get in the drawing, but you also get a Twizzler. So, we are trying to make them aware of what we know, that students like time off, and food and gifts, so we are trying to get the messages across by also appealing to them like, hey we have these things over here, come and find out what we are all about.”
McLaughlin stressed that parents need to talk to their children about addiction, and that they do not want their child to become and addict, and that they have expectations of them, that their parents want them to follow, to be happy and healthy, both now and throughout their life.