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Reservations show their Red Ribbon pride

With a nationwide theme of “Life is your journey, travel drug free,” Seminole reservations turned out in full force during the Tribe’s annual participation in Red Ribbon Week.

(See all the images at the end of this story).

From Oct. 12-17 Immokalee was filled with activities from colorfully decorated doors to community and prayer walks to a kid’s day hayride and culture dinner to a fun-filled parade complete with flying candy.

October 15 was a busy day in Immokalee. The community walk started the week off with a bang as a group of adults and children hoofed it all the way to the four-way stop sign and back to the gym, a distance of about two miles. It was followed by a community lunch, parade and a community dinner.

With red ribbons in hand, these youth show their spirit during Red Ribbon Week in Brighton. (Photo Damon Scott)

The afternoon parade was the perfect size for the Immokalee Reservation; eight ATVs were transformed with patchwork and signs promoting the Red Ribbon. One was transformed into a chickee by the clever use of palm fronds. The parade snaked through every residential street to ensure all children got their fill of sweet treats.

“I live here and am proud to represent Immokalee,” said Jr. Miss Florida Seminole Allegra Billie at the dinner following the parade. “To live a long, happy life, you must live drug free and get a good education.”

Led by CBH Aftercare Prevention Counselor Fred Mullins, every Tribal department collaborated and contributed to the Red Ribbon events. He also spoke at the community dinner.

“You young people are our future,” said Mullins. “But right now there is a war going on in this country against opioids. We stand together in this community so we can rock this journey drug free.”

The community center was hushed as Mullins led the crowd a moment of silence for all those kids and adults who are addicted.

Student council representatives at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School lead the way during Brighton’s Red Ribbon march. (Photo Damon Scott)

“This is the 12th year of the week-long substance abuse awareness event,” said Mark Lichtenberg, CBH clinical supervisor. “It’s a call to action. Addiction is a world-wide issue that is killing people by the thousands.

The younger you get the message out that drugs are not the answer, the better chance it has to keep them from becoming a slave to drugs.”

The Brighton Reservation came out in force Oct. 16 to walk together for a common purpose – to promote living a drug-free life.

Students, teachers and staff from the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School joined with Tribal leaders and community members in a Red Ribbon Week march that began on Sports Complex Road near the Fred Smith Rodeo Arena.

Dozens walked from the starting point, winded through a residential neighborhood, and ended up at PECS, which served as the end point of the march.

Most participants were dressed in red – the color designated for the entire week’s worth of activities which included a poster contest, spaghetti dinner, door decorating contest, a volleyball tournament and other fitness-related activities.

Caysie Platt won the poster design contest. The Boys and Girls Club won the best door decoration.

Tampa poster winner: Azaria Simmons (Courtesy photo)

“Say no to drugs. Life is your journey, travel drug free,” was one message seen during the week on posters and other items. Another message, printed on T-shirts for those in attendance to wear, said: “Don’t lock up your life. Your future is key. So stay drug free.”

During the march, many students tied red ribbons around different items in the neighborhood, such as fences, street sign posts and mailboxes.

Some students marched with signs and many rode on a chickee hut float, driven through the path of the march.

At Chupco’s Landing in Fort Pierce, the community celebrated Red Ribbon Week with a morning walk and an evening speaker, prayer and dinner. Youth and adults recited Red Ribbon pledges. T-shirts featuring Anani Griffin’s winning poster design were handed out.

Tampa’s Red Ribbon activities started with a community walk and lunch at the Field Office on Oct. 20. The day’s schedule included several activities for kids, including crafts, face painting, a scavenger hunt and a Red Ribbon-theme painting contest.

Additional Red Ribbon Week activities were scheduled to be held elsewhere in the Tribe after deadline for this issue of the Tribune. Coverage will be included in the Nov. 30 issue.

Big Cypress and Immokalee Aftercare/Prevention Counselor Fred Mullins leads a group during Immokalee’s “Kids Day” culture dinner at the Immokalee Culture Center on Oct. 16. (Courtesy photo)
Brighton door decoration contest winner: Brighton Boys & Girls Club (Courtesy photo)
Brighton poster winner: Caysie Platt (Courtesy photo)
Tampa shows its support for Red Ribbon Week with various activities, including a walk. (Courtesy photo)
Tampa poster winner: Azaria Simmons (Courtesy photo)
Wearing T-shirts with poster contest winner Anani Griffin’s design, Fort Pierce kids participate in Red Ribbon Week at Chupco’s Landing. (Courtesy photo)
Cecilia Garcia hands out treat-filled goodie bags to the crowd of awaiting children during the Immokalee Red Ribbon Day parade Oct. 15. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Bianca Serpas, Dolores Lopez and Magdalie Dumorne with their winning Red Ribbon decorated door in Immokalee. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Members of the Immokalee community participated in the two-mile Red Ribbon walk Oct. 15. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Tying red ribbons around poles is one way Brighton honored Red Ribbon Week. (Photo Damon Scott)
Student council representatives at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School lead the way during Brighton’s Red Ribbon march. (Photo Damon Scott)
With red ribbons in hand, these youth show their spirit during Red Ribbon Week in Brighton. (Photo Damon Scott)
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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.

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