110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Nov 7, 2013 - 3:14:59pm
This year’s Red Ribbon Week at Spirit Elementary in Deltona was more memorable than usual. The community partnered with the elementary school to develop a robust Red Ribbon Week aimed at educating children about making good choices and preventing the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and violence.
Observed Oct. 23-31, Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign designed to educate youth and encourage their participation in drug-prevention activities.
“Earlier in the year, I participated in career week at Spirit Elementary,” said Ruben Colon, respiratory therapist at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial. “During this time, it was noted that, due to limited funding, there were very few resources available for the children to address health and well-being.”
Over the next few months, Colon, along with fellow colleagues at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial, planned activities for the annual Red Ribbon Week. On Oct. 24 and 25, Colon brought a group of Daytona State College respiratory therapy students to the elementary school to speak to more than 350 kindergarteners, first-graders and second-graders about medication safety.
“With the little ones, we teach them to ‘stop and ask first’ before taking anything,” Colon said. “Sometimes, medicines can look like candy or something that looks like juice could actually be a harmful chemical cleaner. We teach the kids that if they don’t know what something is, they need to stop and ask an adult before consuming it.”
On Nov. 1, the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were treated to a special Red Ribbon event, called Champion of Choices with Marc Mero, a retired amateur boxer and professional wrestler.
Mero’s Champion of Choices program empowers students to make positive choices and addresses serious issues such as bullying, peer pressure, substance abuse and suicide. Mero inspires students to treat themselves and others with respect, dream big, achieve goals and cherish relationships.
“I’m here to help you unlock the champion you are destined to be,” Mero said to the Spirit Elementary students. “Happiness is a choice and it is the key to success.”
Mero shared his life stories with the students, courtesy of Daytona Nissan. Mero experienced his first crisis at 8 years old when his parents divorced. He grew up in a single-family home in a poor section of New York, but wrote down his dreams and goals, setting his sights on athletics. Mero worked hard to achieve success in hockey, football, boxing and professional wrestling. After reaching the pinnacle of sports entertainment as a World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestling champion, Mero suffered enormous loss and learned that money and fame can’t buy happiness.
The tragic loss of more than 30 of Mero’s close friends and family members – largely due to lifestyle choices and negative behaviors – spurred Mero into action and in 2007, he developed the Champion of Choices program.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this was a life changing event for the students at Spirit Elementary,” Colon said. “Being a part of this event is truly an honor for Florida Hospital Fish Memorial.”
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