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Gabby King, 14, left, makes a change to a script while Liz Parker, 14, looks on. The girls, both ninth-graders at Seoul American High School, are participating in skits that talk about the dangers of alcohol and smoking.
Gabby King, 14, left, makes a change to a script while Liz Parker, 14, looks on. The girls, both ninth-graders at Seoul American High School, are participating in skits that talk about the dangers of alcohol and smoking. (Teri Weaver / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Teens at Seoul American Middle School and High School will take part in “Red Ribbon Week,” raising awareness of the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

The events kick off Saturday with a 10K run on Yongsan. During the week, both schools will have special dress days, visits from military police officials and discussions about where to turn with questions or for help with substance abuse. Toward the end of the week, the kids are asked to wear all red, and on Friday, the 8th Army band will perform at the high school at 11 a.m.

“The whole focus is teaching kids that they can have fun without” substance abuse, said Shelia Bryant, who works with the Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Service at Yongsan. The service is working with the schools to plan the events.

Red Ribbon Week started about 20 years ago to honor Kiki Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was killed by drug traffickers. In 1988, Congress proclaimed the last week in October as Red Ribbon Week, a time to remember Camarena and to promote awareness of drug abuse.

During the week, counselors ask that teens abstain from using any tobacco, illegal drugs or alcohol, she said. “We’re not asking them to pledge for a lifetime,” she said. “We’re asking them to pledge for a week.”

Bryant said she doesn’t think students on Yongsan have problems or peer pressures that are any different from teens growing up in the States. But, she said, alcohol and tobacco are easier to obtain off-post than in America.

In past years, Red Ribbon Week highlights have included crazy hair and wild sock days, part of the fun the counselors and teachers try to pass on to the kids, Bryant said.

On Wednesday and Friday, small groups of high school students will perform skits at the middle school that show the health risks associated with alcohol and cigarettes. In the next few weeks, one of the skits will be made into a commercial that will run on the American Forces Network, according to Bryant.

Last week, during skit practice, some of the teens talked about why they decided to participate.

“I like teenagers,” said Liz Parker, 14, whose mother is a counselor at Seoul American Elementary School. Liz, a ninth-grader, wants to be a psychologist when she grows up.

“I know firsthand a lot of people this age and what they go through,” she said Wednesday afternoon during skit practice. “And there’s not a lot of places to go.”

At Yongsan, the adolescent counseling service has two counselors who work in the middle and high schools. The group also has a building on Main Post, just behind the chapel.

Raven Clark’s participation in Red Ribbon Week skits was also about her dreams.

“I want to be an actress,” the 10th-grader said.

For more information, go to www.asacs.org or contact middle school counselor Ruth Hines at DSN 738-6815 or Bryant, the high school counselor, at DSN 738-6816.

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