Young Marines talk to peers for Red Ribbon Week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2011



LAPLACE – All this week, students in St. John the Baptist Parish schools have been receiving lessons on being drug free from members of the St. John Young Marines Program, which conducted presentations at schools across the area.

With the help of Unit Commander Brian Bertrand, the Young Marines talked with their fellow students about the inherent dangers of drug use in an effort to make students aware of what they need to do to stay drug free. The presentations were an element of the nationwide “Red Ribbon Week,” a drug prevention program that honors the memory of federal Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camerena, who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers in 1985 while working undercover. Students wear red ribbons and take a pledge to continue to live a drug-free lifestyle.

“His death opened the eyes of many Americans to the danger of drugs and the international scope of the drug trade,” Bertrand said. “As a group, the Young Marines wanted to do something special this week because the vision of a drug-free community held by Agent Camerena is one that all Young Marines Share.”

At East St. John Elementary School on Wednesday, Bertrand and Young Marines Kenyatte Cannon, Kenjatte Cannon and Dawnisha McCall, presented to seventh graders at the school. While McCall and Kenyatte Cannon discussed the dangers and side effects of various drugs, Kenyatte’s brother Kenjatte handed out ribbons to about 100 students packed into the classroom.

The presentation included a stirring story from Bertrand about a man he knew that died after his first time experimenting with cocaine.

“His body could not handle it,” he said. “All it takes is one time. I’m not here to tell you all to ‘just say no.’ I could come here everyday to tell you that. I want you and all of your class mates to be aware of what drugs can do to you.”

Bertrand said the Young Marines want to expand the “Red Ribbon Week” events so that they eventually include public forums for adults and family members.

The Young Marines made presentations at St. Joan of Arc, John L. Ory Magnet, Lake Pontchartrain Elementary, East St. John Elementary, Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet, LaPlace Elementary, East St. John High, West St. John High and Riverside Academy.