Last week students at Middlebrook School celebrated Red Ribbon Week, a national substance use prevention campaign. The Red Ribbon Campaign was founded in 1985 to honor Enrique Camarena, a DEA agent who lost his life in the fight to stop illegal drugs. Red Ribbon Week has evolved into the largest drug prevention program in the nation and a celebration of committing to a drug-free lifestyle.

Members of Wilton Youth Council’s Youth to Youth club at Middlebrook invited their peers to get involved throughout the week. They wore red pajamas, held a candy count contest and shared information about Youth to Youth (Y2Y) in the cafeteria during lunch.

The highlight of the week was assemblies for all students with Kevin Wanzer. Several Y2Y students had the opportunity to hear Wanzer speak at a national Youth to Youth conference this past summer, and they thought he was the perfect choice for Red Ribbon Week–something with which their peers agreed. One parent commented on Facebook, “My daughter loved him. She said it was the best assembly ever!”

Wanzer’s goal is to inspire inclusion, kindness and respect. “I realize when I was back in middle school or high school, I can’t remember who the student body president was. I don’t remember who played what sport. I don’t remember any of that stuff. But I do remember how people made people feel,” says Wanzer. “I remember people that, when I was around them, they made me feel better about myself because of how they treated me.”

Throughout Red Ribbon Week, students were invited to sign a pledge to be substance free. The theme this year was LEAD: Learning, Empowerment, Acceptance, and Dedication. Students decorated a red ribbon banner running the length of one of the cafeteria walls by signing their names on an L, E, A or D and posting it on the banner. Red Ribbon Week has concluded, but students may continue to sign the pledge in the cafeteria and speak with Y2Y members if they would like to add their names on the banner wall. The banner will be displayed in the cafeteria for the next two weeks.

Youth to Youth at Middlebrook is supported by the Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Trust. Kevin Wanzer’s presentations and the Y2Y club at Wilton High School are sponsored by Newport Academy.

To learn more about Youth to Youth at Middlebrook or Wilton High School, visit the Wilton Youth Council website. Membership is open to all students, and new members are welcome at any time.