Keene State juniors Angela Stebbins and Libby Hiney will volunteer this week at the Winchester School, educating the students on drug prevention and substance abuse.
This week is Red Ribbon Week, a week devoted to educating children from kindergarten through eighth grade about drug prevention and awareness. Recently put into action by N.H. Governor John Lynch, this program runs from Saturday, Oct. 22 through Saturday, Oct. 30.
Schools will hold education programs all around the state, including the Winchester School in nearby Winchester, N.H., where Keene State students will volunteer.
Hiney, a substance abuse major, said she almost transferred from KSC until a professor told her about the major.
“I ended up talking to a professor and they said there was a substance abuse program and I got really interested,” Hiney said. She said she always been curious about what drugs do to the body, and wanted to learn more about it.
Hiney said it was a chance meeting between her and Stebbins that got her involved in Red Ribbon Week.
“I heard about it from Angela,” Hiney said. “She is in my art class and we got talking one day and she mentioned how she runs the ‘Race Against Drugs’ program, and told me about Red Ribbon Week and I wanted to get involved.”
Stebbins had a different path however, gaining most of her knowledge on substance abuse during her time with the N.H. Air National Guard. Stebbins, a journalism major with a minor in substance abuse, said she was able to transfer credits to KSC through her work with the Air Force.
“I started off volunteering in the community, and I learned more by going on a tour serving the counter-drug task force,” Stebbins said. “I learned a lot through them and got quite a bit of my education from the military, as well as the counter-drug task force.”
Stebbins also mentioned the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services, the National Guard, and the Governor’s Task Force as groups that added to her education.
“I am a member of a local coalition in the Winchester area and I volunteer and help out to spread the drug prevention mission and this is one of the events I did last year and I’m very happy to do it again with some of my classmates,” Stebbins said. “It’s just a fun thing and it’s easy for the school to get involved with it.”
The coalition is called We’ve Got Your Back, and holds prevention events, including most recently an event at the Monadnock Speedway, where kids will take part in race events and education programs. Stebbins said the program is going to be an afterschool racing program based around drug prevention.
“[I am] trying to make it an intern program at KSC for both drug prevention and journalism students,” Stebbins said. “It works for both its teaching aspects and media opportunities; teaching kids about drug prevention but also how to be advocates, making posters, using media outlets, talking to the media, and spreading awareness are all parts of the program.”
Stebbins is working on getting certification as a prevention specialist, as well as working on her two degrees.
“Actually one of the big things that’s coming out of us working with KSC,” Stebbins said, “Is anyone who volunteers will be able to get certified for free through the National Color Guard Task Force. They have [the] Staying On Track program that’s going to be a huge benefit for anybody who is going to school for substance abuse, and even early childhood education; it will be a huge asset for all of us.”
Stebbins said the next prevention certification class is on Nov. 19, through the National Color Guard Task Force, and will give participants two-year certification to teach in the Staying On Track drug education programs.
Hiney is also going to get certified and participate in the Staying On Track program, and stressed the importance of education programs like these.
“I think that the most important thing that kids need to understand is that drugs can be dangerous,” Hiney said. “And if you need to, wait until you’re old enough to try these things. Alcohol is really bad for undeveloped brains and kids need to be educated and understand that there is a consequence of doing drugs at such a young age.”
Working with kids is also something Hiney is familiar with, as she works at a summer camp. Although drug prevention and awareness does not come up often at the camp, Hiney said she wanted to combine her skills with kids and knowledge of her substance abuse major, and was happy to help Stebbins.
On Tuesday at the Winchester School, the students will be gathered out front of the school holding red signs forming into a ribbon shape. The National Guard Color Guard Task Force is going to fly over and take a picture as one more way to remember this event.
“Last year the kids had a blast,” Stebbins said. “The military photographer flew overhead for an aerial photo that made front page news.”
Although there are no Red Ribbon Week events at KSC this year, Stebbins said she is confident for events in the near future.
Kevin Butler can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.