Ribbon month celebrates healthy living

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    By Meghan Riding and Irinna Schwenke

    Utah school districts are celebrating a yearlong commitment to healthy living through ribbon activities during the month of October.

    Healthy lifestyles and violence-free living are the focus of the community-involved awareness program, said Mike Cottam, prevention programs specialist for Alpine School District.

    “Ribbon month is a commemoration for a year long commitment of respect for ourselves and others,” he said.

    Three areas are emphasized throughout the year at local schools, Cottam said.

    Students are taught to respect themselves, others and the environment.

    “The world should be treated as a garden, not a sewer,” Cottam said.

    The red ribbon week was started by the family of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena, who was killed by drug traffickers in 1985. The red ribbon symbolized the intolerance for drugs in schools, workplaces and communities, Cottam said.

    In 1994 the purple ribbon was added to the campaign to symbolize the prevention of violence, Cottam said. Schools focus on these areas through specific learning activities.

    At Legacy Elementary School in American Fork, students recognize ribbon month through the annual value pumpkin walk, Principal John Burton said.

    Classes focus on a value, such as drug-free living or honesty, and decorate a booth with pumpkins around the theme. The community is invited to tour the booths, Burton said.

    Legacy Elementary School emphasizes healthy living not only during ribbon month, but also throughout the year. Other activities are held at Christmas and in the spring, Burton said.

    Ann Adamson, a second grade teacher at Legacy Elementary School, said ribbon month teaches self-control, pride and integrity.

    “I’m really committed that schools should teach children to be responsible and good people,” she said.

    Schools are not the only advocates in creating “responsible and good people.”

    The community joins schools in promoting the yearlong celebration.

    Mayor Jerry Washburn of Orem will address Orchard Elementary School on Monday to kick off ribbon week activities.

    The mayor will focus on the concept of self-improvement along the theme of “I believe I can fly,” Orchard Elementary’s motto for the 2000-01 school year.

    “I will be focusing on the dangers of drug abuse and the advantages of living a non-violent life,” Washburn said. “I also want to discuss peer groups and how they can be used for both positive and negative influences. It’s important to recognize that one person can shape a peer group for good or bad.”

    Cottam said it is important to single out a month for commemorating healthy living.

    “Ribbon month is important because we mark our lives with rituals and celebrations, like birthdays and weddings,” he said. “It tells us where we are and where we are going.”

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