“Say No to Drugs!” It is a mantra children hear from they are very young. But statistics suggest that the impact of the message is not the same for all boys and girls. Schools in Belize City have for several years now sought to further ingrain the message through Drug Awareness Week, popularly called “Red Ribbon Week.” This week it is being celebrated at Gwen Lizarraga High School and today students were parading through the streets. Principal Dr. Lorna McKay tells us more.
“We are celebrating Drug Week and this is one of our parades that we usually have every year or say, make banners, quick thing of how they feel about Drug Week, and it’s the parade that we are doing right now”.
Reporter: “Is it a week full of activities?”
Dr. Lorna McKay: “It is a week full of activities. We do the banner competition, we do the poster competition; they get prizes, the best banners, the best posters and classes, just of their classes, so as to have some sort of depicting of the week”.
But after one week of anti-drug messages versus many pervasive influences, which weighs heavier with students? Principal McKay tells us that the school has been able to reduce the drug problem with teenagers.
Dr. Lorna McKay: “There has been an increase in the awareness of students not using drugs. We do a lot of that in our school; we have a Counseling Department that makes sure that the students know what the causes and effects of drugs are, and we also, because most of our students come from the Southside of Belize City…we have a very challenging time, but our students understand and they are doing very well. So far as the use of drugs, we used to find a lot. Now we are not finding close to any on our compound”.
Excelsior High School and Wesley College are also part of the Red Ribbon Movement. The National Drug Abuse Control Council is presently conducting a study on drug and alcohol use among Belizean teenagers.