Students tune in to sober message with Red Ribbon anti-drug program
Kathleen Cox's Kansas History students were happy to see guest speaker Shelli Schottler Monday afternoon if, for no other reason, than the absence of homework.
Yet the seventh graders, many of whom wore red ribbons, had no problem maintaining their enthusiasm when they squared off in a baseball-like trivia game featuring questions about drugs and alcohol.
Schottler, a Washburn University graduate student in social work, was one of several interns in the WRAP program hosting activities for Red Ribbon Week at Eudora Middle School. Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities (WRAP) is a program that brings mental health care to school children.
When the "Squirrels" took on the "Americans" in the trivia game, which awarded singles, doubles, etc., depending on the question's difficulty, Schottler mediator and emcee, reading questions like, "Does advertising show the negative affects of alcohol?"
Red Ribbon activities continue until Nov. 6 with dress-up days, drawings, a poster contest and additional speakers and activities. Red Ribbon Week is a national program, and Johnston said she got ideas from Web sites, the Lawrence school district and discussion with the WRAP staff.
"The activities each day are going to be related to the whole gamut," said Middle School WRAP coordinator Terry Johnston.
The first day of the program commenced with a pledge to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Johnston said the program focused on preventing underage drinking and smoking and encouraging students to abstain from all drugs for life.
"Education is so they decide for themselves to stay away," she said.
Although Red Ribbon Week takes place at Eudora Middle School because that's where Johnston's headquarters are, Schottler pointed out in her presentation most students first try alcohol between ages 11 and 13 when they are in middle school.
"This really affects you guys," she told the class. "This really hits home."
Many of the students could name different types of alcohol, sometimes by name brand, its negative effects, both long term and short term.
As Schottler questioned them about the legal drinking age, some students were even savvy enough to point out that although someone may be too young to purchase alcohol, it doesn't mean they won't drink it.
Schottler also responded to an inquiry about reports that drinking alcohol in moderation especially red wine may have health benefits.
"People in other countries, like Italy, do it and they say it's good for the heart," she said. "No matter what, is it OK for you to drink a glass of wine at dinner time? Would it be the same thing if you had five or six glasses?"