Nonprofit CARE teamed up with Roseville Community Schools to promote efforts to discourage substance use among young people.

Nonprofit CARE teamed up with Roseville Community Schools to promote efforts to discourage substance use among young people.

Photo provided by Jennifer Korzeniowski


Red Ribbon Week encourages people to fight back against substance use

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 30, 2018

 Roseville High School’s Teens Talking Truth student group joined in on Red Ribbon Week efforts to combat substance use.

Roseville High School’s Teens Talking Truth student group joined in on Red Ribbon Week efforts to combat substance use.

Photo provided by Jennifer Korzeniowski

ROSEVILLE — Folks around Roseville may be sporting a tiny red ribbon this October as part of Red Ribbon Week activities promoted by the anti-drug nonprofit CARE of Southeastern Michigan.

Red Ribbon Week runs from Oct. 22 to 31. In that time, groups around the United States try to work in their communities to raise awareness of substance use and take extra steps to combat it.

“Red Ribbon Week is one of the largest and longest prevention programs going on in the nation,” said Lauren Stankovich, the community organizing supervisor for CARE. “Nationally, it was started by the National Family Partnership. We don’t have one organization which oversees it locally, but CARE does so much in the schools with prevention, so we’re trying to make it our own this year and coordinate as many programs as we can this time around.”

CARE sees Red Ribbon Week as an opportunity to reach out and share its message of hope.

“CARE has been around for more than 40 years,” Stankovich said. “We are a substance abuse prevention program, and we help families, individuals and communities confront substance abuse and mental health problems. We find, more often than not, people use unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drugs, to deal with stress and anxiety, and we want to show people how to cope in a healthy way.”

CARE has been working with Roseville Community Schools to try and engage in a dialogue on the subject with young people.

“We have been doing an array of presentations to students to try and lay a foundation in young students to convince them not to use. We want to get this conversation started,” said Stankovich. “We want young people to understand about different kinds of drugs, how it affects them, why people use, and talk to them about refusal skills. We also want to share some different, healthier alternatives. We want people to know there are solutions and there are ways to improve their life.”

Roseville Community Schools has embraced CARE’s efforts and is helping CARE host several programs to educate teens.

“We’ve had activities running all week,” said Jennifer Korzeniowski, the student assistant specialist at Roseville High School. “We offered two lunchroom presentations where we had a table set up in the lunchroom, and we had a Plinko game CARE brought in to debunk myths and provide facts about drug and alcohol abuse. On Thursday, we had a big setup to show students what harmful chemicals are commonly in vape pens and other nicotine products.”

Several Roseville High School students are joining in the efforts with their own projects during Red Ribbon Week.

“Students in the Teens Talking Truth coalition decorated doors throughout the school as well,” Korzeniowski said. “We also offered an interactive presentation on the truth about marijuana on Wednesday and passed out red ribbons to staff members and students. Students Against Destructive Decisions also put red ribbons on everyone’s cars.”

Korzeniowski said she believes the programs were helpful and made a real impact.

“We did have a few students who stayed after these presentations and asked a lot of questions,” she said. “We had a very diverse group of kids engaging in these programs; both students who have never tried drugs and alcohol, and those who have used these substances extensively, and I’m glad we were able to talk to both types of students.”

Stankovich hopes this week will encourage people to reach out for help.

“We encourage people to get involved with local groups like the Roseville Community Coalition and the Eastpointe Community Action Coalition,” said Stankovich. “We have worked with them to develop solutions to drug use and alcohol use.”
Visit www.careofsem.com or call at (586) 541-2273 for more information or to get in touch with CARE or either local organization.

There also was a National Drug Take Back Day program running at the same time as Red Ribbon Week, on Oct. 27, after press time, in Roseville and Eastpointe, where members of the public could drop off unwanted or unused medication to prevent it from reaching the streets. Both communities’ police departments have year-round drop boxes where people can anonymously drop off unneeded medications as well.

“We are using Red Ribbon Week to share with people that there are solutions to addiction, and using this week to talk to people about an uncomfortable subject,” said Stankovich. “Most people talk about substance abuse after something bad is happening, and we want to do that ahead of time in a positive and proactive way.”