WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- You may be relieved to know those red ribbons around the city are not early Christmas decorations.
Red Ribbon Week is a national movement to raise awareness of substance abuse among children. Since 2005, the White Plains Youth Bureau and City have expanded it into an entire month, in order to better reinforce the message.
Bhavana Pahwa, program director of parent-project Project Hope at the White Plains Youth Bureau, told The Daily Voice, "Research has shown in order for message to get through, it has to be consistent, and also transmitted with sufficient intensity for people to able to hear the message and absorb it. A one-shot thing doesn't have big impact."
Pahwa worked together with coalition coordinator Chanelle Hyde, of New Rochelle, to create the program which fills October with events focused on substance abuse prevention in children and adolescents.
According to Pahwa, the most vulnerable years for children to get involved with substance abuse are ages 11 to 14, or grades six through nine.
"Parents should get away from the thought process that (drugs and alcohol) are a natural thing for adolescents to do. They don't have to if there's enough supervision. Parents need to get involved in getting their kids involved with healthy activities," she said.
She added that children enjoy spreading anti-drug messages, especially through sidewalk chalking events.
She said, "The kids have a good time spreading these positive ideas, and the surrounding community gets involved. They stop and talk to the kids about the messages. It's reverse peer pressure, kids pointing out to parents why it is dangerous to use drugs."
The events for Red Ribbon Month include game nights each Wednesday at the Microsoft Store in the Westchester Mall, free iceskating at the Ebersole Ice Rink on Oct. 25, sidewalk chalking on Oct. 15 and 17, teen night at the Battle Hill Teen Lounge on Oct. 19, and Youth Day on Oct. 26.
For more information about programming from the White Plains Youth Bureau, click here.