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UVI March Kicks Off Week of Anti-Drug Activities

Oct. 23, 2006 — The numbers were small, but the message was big: Shouting "Say no to drugs, live a drug-free life," about 25 St. Croix UVI students marched Monday from the university kiosk to the Cafetorium, where they participated in a rally commemorating Red Ribbon Week.
All across the Virgin Islands, agencies and groups are coming together to commemorate Red Ribbon Week in an effort to heighten awareness of drug prevention among young people. The march and rally on the St. Croix university campus was one of the first activities of the week.
"There is a sadness that is happening here," said Maren Roebuck, Health Department substance-abuse coordinator, addressing the small crowd gathered in the Cafetorium. "Our community is being torn apart by drugs."
Suggesting they not worry about the number of participants, Roebuck urged the students to keep spreading the message.
"We must restore our society," she said. Young people in the community use drugs like marijuana, alcohol and heroin, Roebuck said. She warned parents to be vigilant because young people are getting high by huffing — the dangerous practice of inhaling aerosols.
"Parents need to take a stand," Roebuck said. "Don't be a parent who sees and doesn't see; be a nosy parent."
Michael Shea, a primary therapist at the Village-Virgin Islands Partners in Recovery (VIPR), a drug treatment facility, spoke about the difficulties addicts have conquering their addiction. VIPR is a six-month program, he said, but once patients have spent two months in the residential facility they believe they are ready to reenter society. "But their desire calls them back," Shea said. One out of ten people who use recreational drugs get hooked, he said, recommending that the students dont start.
The V.I. Red Ribbon Committee is coordinated by the Law Enforcement Planning Committee, based on St. Thomas. Flemmon Lewis serves as national coordinator. On St. Croix, the chairperson is Annette Scott, who also works for the Department of Health. The territorial committee consists of more than 25 civic, local and federal government agencies.
The Red Ribbon Campaign began after drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered Kiki Camarena, a DEA agent, in 1985. This launched the continuing tradition of displaying red ribbons as a symbol of intolerance toward drug use. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment toward the creation of drug-free communities.
Here are the activities scheduled for the remainder of Red Ribbon Week on St. Thomas:
Decorate Your Door Day UVI dormitories
8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Youth March and Rally at Emancipation Garden
TBA — School presentations at junior and senior high schools and UVI pavilion
TBA — Open-mike karaoke contest at Bolongo Bay
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. — "Strike Out Against Drugs Crime and Violence" at the bowling alley in Bolongo
10 a.m. Family Fun Day at Magen's Bay, Shed No. 2
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