Students walk to promote drug awareness and prevention

| May 21, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Spc. Jesus J. Aranda
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs 

Emily Bean, a Wheeler Middle School sixth grader, places a lei onto the Tropic Lightning Memorial, May 12. The set of statues honor the memory of 25th Infantry Division Soldiers who have fallen in combat. WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — More than 100 students took part in the annual Wheeler Middle School Drug-Free Walk beginning at the school, here, and ending at the 25th Infantry Division headquarters building on Schofield Barracks, May 12.

Students from grades six, seven and eight took part in the walk alongside school faculty and Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th ID, in recognition of the importance of living a drug-free life.

“It sounds like a simple thing — to walk, but the message it sends is very much larger,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Darryl Jannone, command sergeant major, U.S. Army Garrison–Oahu. “The message it sends is drugs have absolutely no place in our community.”

The walk was casual, allowing students to mingle and chat with their peers, guests, school faculty and Soldiers, including the military police who escorted the students during the walk.

“Our role is to help out and assist the teachers,” said Spc. Ruth Kail, a military policeman with the 13th Military Police Detachment and a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer for the schools, here, and on Schofield Barracks. “We have traffic police and officers on bikes to help out.”

The annual drug free walk, according to Kail, is only part of a continuous antidrug education plan for all on-post schools in the area.

“We teach the students about the negative effects of drugs on the brain and body, and also good decision-making skills,” said Kail. “We teach students how to make the right decisions, make the right friends, stand up to peer pressure and take charge of their lives.”

For Kail and the students, taking charge of one’s life is as simple as being him or herself.

“Basically, standing up for yourself and being confident,” Kail said. “If someone offers you a cigarette, just be prepared and know that this is something you don’t want, and make a pledge to say no.”

Upon arrival to the headquarters building at Schofield Barracks, the students gathered around the Tropic Lightning Memorial to pay their respects to the Soldiers who have sacrificed their lives as part of the division.

Jannone reminded students of the damage drug abuse can have on a person’s future.

“I’ve been an MP for more than 25 years,” said Jannone. “I can assure you the impact of drugs is devastating — emotionally, physically and financially devastating.”

He assured the students that saying no to drugs is much cooler than drug users and peer pressures try to make students believe.

“Popularity is actually found in positive behavior,” he said. “A lot of kids may say, ‘That’s not cool.’ I’m here to tell you that is cool. Victory at home, success at school and the community, in my eyes, is very cool.”

“I want to thank each and every one of you for being out here today,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Leota, command sergeant major, 25th ID. “As a military child, it is important that you understand the value that you have in our community. Thank you for representing your class, your school and your community.”

At the close of the event, several students were then chosen to honor the fallen heroes by placing leis onto the monument, with one student’s words speaking volumes for what the event was all about.

“I think drugs are really bad, and I am going to stay away from drugs,” said Emily Bean, a Wheeler Middle School sixth grader.

See more photos on Flickr.

Category: Community

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