On May 16, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced the winners of its annual Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Award. This award recognizes outstanding efforts during the Red Ribbon Week campaign, held annually in October to encourage commitments to stay addiction-free.
At the national Young Marines’ Adult Leaders Conference in Orlando, Cindy Townsend, adjutant of the Alpha Battalion, accepted the second-place award for Division 3 (the southeastern United States) on behalf of the Young Marines of the Palm Beaches for their efforts last October.
Young Marines are taught year-round about the dangers of various drugs and trained to spread this message to others, since research shows that young people listen more readily to other, more knowledgeable youth. The unit’s Red Ribbon Week efforts began last summer during a camping trip in Tequesta in which the young people, ages 8 to 18, learned about Camarena, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and later joined the DEA to help stop the destruction caused by drugs.
The Palm Beaches unit gathered in Wellington, where Mayor Anne Gerwig read a Red Ribbon Week proclamation on behalf of the Young Marines, and they made red cord bracelets to use in their community outreach efforts. At the Tequesta Night Out, the unit used a carnival game to teach children about the dangers of drugs and gathered signatures on pledges to stay addiction-free. At the Pine Jog Elementary School Trunk or Treat in Greenacres, the unit decorated a van with the message “I’d rather eat bugs than do drugs” and gave out balloons and pencils with anti-drug messages. The unit continued its efforts at a Delray Marketplace trick-or-treat event, where it handed out hundreds of candies along with anti-addiction information. At two local schools, Young Marines Jaymin Gonzalez and Elliott Trzasko taught classes and gave information to students. Other Young Marines decorated a mailbox and door to spread the message.
Young Marines is a national youth organization that teaches teamwork, leadership and discipline while promoting a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. Learn more at www.palmbeachym.org.