I witnessed magic this week and it is something that will stay with me, forever.

Here's the tea, it is Red Ribbon Week at Gardiner Regional Middle School.

Red Ribbon week takes place each year between October 23rd through the 31st, according to redribbon.org and is open to all who want to participate. It is a mission to keep kids and everyone for that matter, drug free. As well as raising awareness on the prevention of drugs.

As their website states, 

..the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America.

This mission and challenge has been accepted by the remarkable young humans and staff at Gardiner Regional Middle School. 

I was lucky enough to visit this school to support them in their efforts with this epidemic, thanks to Patricia Buck Welton who is the DFC Project Coordinator with Healthy Communities of The Capital Area as well as help from Gardiner Area Thrives. 

When I walked into the school, I was unaware of weight and rapid intensity of emotions that I was going to be hit with throughout my visit. When I was finished, I admit I cried in my car.

Here's why. I met Sam Robison, Ms. Robison, who is the JMG Specialist at Gardiner Regional Middle School. Aside from being a young teacher, full of enthusiam, she was a member of the United States Army Reserves.

She introduced me to her class of 12 students. The students were welcoming and beyond exceptional young humans. They were eager but shy at times and full of passion.

They wrote down their feelings on Red Ribbon week and were able to help my radio station record a PSA on the importance of it.

Ms. Robison is an person who puts her whole heart into connecting with her students. I got the chance to observe her class. I watched as she listened to them intently and with zero judgment. She made sure they knew that each and every one of them was worthy.

Watching teachers do their, "job" is like watching magic happen right before your eyes. You can't believe it, you can't do it, but you wish you knew the secret. That is Ms. Robison, she's magic. And having a support person like that, within a school, especially when children are struggling with this exact subject matter, is detrimental to their growth.

The students were tasked to share their feelings on being drug free. Unfortunately, many of these kids are far too familiar with drug abuse and addiction because of their family members, parents, and some are struggling with it themselves.

Therefore, it is vital that Gardiner Regional Middle School is learning about being Drug Free because sadly, it is in way too many homes. Patricia's work with her company, to raise awareness on this issue with this school is a task that should not go unnoticed.

I was able to talk with many students, connect with them and in turn feel hopeful that what the Patricia, Ms. Robison and all other staff are doing, is helping tremendously.

I am adopting this Middle School as my own and am going to continue to support them and their efforts to eradicate drug use within schools and families in the Gardiner area and all throughout Maine.

I have a personal tie to this work and raising awareness on mental illness and drug abuse and it is one of my life missions as it is so many others, to do all they can to help with this epidemic.

Red Ribbon Week is the nation's largest and oldest drug prevention program. You can show your support to drug prevention by wearing a red ribbon on your person during the week.

Lizzy Snyder
Lizzy Snyder

These bracelets were passed out so that whomever wears them can physically show their support. I will wear mine, proudly knowing I am doing all I can to help make our state a bit better. Will you?

If you'd like to learn more about what Gardiner Regional Middle School, myself and many other people are doing with Red Ribbon Week, or want to put a part of it yourself, please visit their website. 


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