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Tampa takes part in Red Ribbon Week

By Peter B. Gallagher

TAMPA — Seminole youth, their families and friends, Tribal staff and special guests gathered at the Golden Corral in Brandon on Oct. 18 to celebrate Red Ribbon Week among the Tampa Seminoles. The event featured a sobering, yet hopeful talk by Cindy Grant, director of the Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance (HCADA).

Grant praised the Tribe for the family atmosphere of the event: “The family meals provides a very good way of bonding with your kids,” she said, speaking in a room with walls covered in brightly-colored anti-drug posters.

Through her role as director, Grant has access to local statistics that indicate the rise in drug abuse in Hillsborough County, where there were 244 overdose deaths last year from prescription pain pill abuse, alone. On the other hand, she quoted data from a survey of county teenagers indicating that “71 percent of kids who took the survey do not drink, 91 percent say they do not smoke cigarettes, and 85 percent do not smoke marijuana,” she said. “Those are very positive statistics.”

Tampa Seminoles have been celebrating Red Ribbon Week for 10 years. Once again, this event was organized by Marilyn Stillwell, Seminole Family Services site manager for Tampa, and Valerie Marone, Seminole Family Services alcohol and drug prevention specialist.

Poster winners marched one by one to the front to receive their awards. First prizes went to Lauren Smith, Azaria Simmons and Julian Dillon; second prizes went to Corrina Smith, Desmond Miller, Avery Miller and Maya Smith; and a third prize went to Angel Dillon.

“It’s all about drug education. We want to reinforce the message to think twice when certain situations arise,” said Stillwell, who praised the support and involvement of the Police Explorers. “I am so pleased at how everyone up here works so well together. Most importantly, the kids seem to love it.”

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