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Communities take a stand during Red Ribbon Week

Finding a way to live a drug free life was the resounding theme of Red Ribbon events across the Tribe throughout October. The annual Red Ribbon Week, which spans weeks, is organized by the Tribe’s Center for Behavorial Health.

In Brighton, preschoolers, Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School students, teachers and staff – including Principal Tracy Downing – joined community members and others from CBH, the Boys & Girls Club and Recreation department for the Red Ribbon march.

Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School student council members met as a group to start off Brighton’s Red Ribbon march together Oct. 8. From left are Lason Baker, Marley Jimmie, Santana Alvarez, Josiah Johns, Ila Trueblood, Preslynn Baker, Serenity Bishop, Silas Snow, Jenna Huff and Makai Newkirk. (Photo Damon Scott)
One of the decorated vehicles with the theme “Send a message: Stay drug free” in the Immokalee Red Ribbon parade. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

Scores of participants wearing red t-shirts, provided by Tribal Council, gathered just east of PECS at the CBH parking lot at 9 a.m. to begin the march through one of Brighton’s residential neighborhoods.

Students stopped along the walk to tie red ribbons on street signs, fences and mailboxes to mark the message of the walk. Other students carried plastic bags to pick up trash along the way, too.

A spaghetti dinner, poster contest and door decorating contest were also part of the week’s festivities – as well as a Red Ribbon co-ed volleyball tournament at the Brighton gymnasium.

Hollywood’s Red Ribbon march gets underway with a group photo in front of the preschool. (Photo Analicia Austin)

The national Red Ribbon Campaign is sponsored by the National Family Partnership and is observed across the country each year in October. The theme this year was “Send a message: Stay drug free.”

Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco, drug and violence prevention awareness campaign. It began in 1985 as a tribute to fallen Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) special agent Enrique Camerena.

The “Send a message: Stay drug free” theme was displayed during the Red Ribbon parade in Immokalee, which kicked off a week of events for kids and families.

Tampa’s Red Ribbon participants show plenty of enthusiasm during their activities. (Photo CBH)
Tampa’s Red Ribbon participants show plenty of enthusiasm during their activities. (Photo CBH)

Elsewhere in the Tribe, other reservations and communities also celebrated Red Ribbon with events in Fort Pierce, Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa.

Preschoolers proudly led the way in a community march around the block in Hollywood where they kicked off the reservation’s week-long events and continued the “Send a message: Stay drug free” theme.

Just about everyone wore red in the march, including Miss Florida Seminole Durante Blais-Billie. Other events included a healthcare screening sponsored by the Seminole Fire Rescue, a youth basketball tournament hosted by Seminole Recreation and a game night and dinner, both hosted by the Boys & Girls Club.

Senior Timesia Jimmie and Zakir Esparza, elder services activity coordinator, get some exercise as they participate in the Immokalee Red Ribbon parade. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Youngsters in Fort Pierce gather for Red Ribbon activities in the gymnasium at Chupco’s Landing. (Photo Matheus Goes)

“There are a lot of bad things out there than can get in your way,” said Immokalee Council liaison Ray Garza after the parade. “They are called drugs. There is a good road and a bad road; hopefully you guys will take the good road.”

“Substance abuse will keep you from achieving what you want in life,” added Big Cypress Board Rep. Joe Frank. “Stay away from drugs. Stay in touch with your family; they will help you with everything.”

Fort Pierce hosted a community march at Chupco’s Landing and activities for kids and a dinner in the gymnasium.

Student Tio Estrada stops to tie a red ribbon on a flag pole during the Brighton march. (Photo Damon Scott)

Poor weather conditions forced Tampa’s activities, originally scheduled to be held outdoors, to move inside.

Several art contests were also part of Red Ribbon Week, including door decorating, posters and T-shirt designs.

Red Ribbon activities in Big Cypress were scheduled to be held in early November. Check out the Nov. 29 Tribune for coverage.

Sharrod Wilder and Derek Pray throw candy out for the kids during the Immokalee Red Ribbon parade. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Youth activities in the Fort Pierce Red Ribbon included art work. (Photo Matheus Goes)
These Hollywood preschoolers carry a banner to show their support during the Red Ribbon march. (Photo Analicia Austin)
PECS teacher Donna Dennison and her class were up bright and early for the march. Front row, from left, Kowi Osceola, Elainna Fonseca, Peyton Thronton, Stellar King, Zoie Foster-Snow and Ciani Smith. Middle row, from left, Augustice Jumper and Aurelius Lara. Back row, from left, Grace Youngblood, Waylon Yates, Jeannine Gran and Dennison. (Photo Damon Scott)