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SAN FERNANDO : Youths Focus on Dangers of Drug Abuse

At Gridley Street Elementary School in San Fernando Thursday, everyone was seeing red.

There were red T-shirts, red dresses, red ribbons, red socks and nearly 200 red balloons that rose with a calm wind into the hazy sky.

The Gridley students, like hundreds of others throughout the San Fernando Valley this week, wore red in honor of national Red Ribbon Week, an event created in 1985 to educate children on the dangers of substance abuse.

They gathered at an outdoor assembly Thursday, where one contest winner from each grade read an original essay on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

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“Drugs are very bad for you,” 7-year-old Nicholas Bermundez read from his essay. “You could stop breathing. A person dies by drugs.”

David Franco had a more personal experience to relate.

“I have been offered drugs and I ran away,” the 10-year-old read. “People are throwing their life away with drugs.”

Gridley and seven other northeast Valley elementary schools joined together this week to show their commitment to early drug and alcohol education. Representatives from each of the schools, as well as a representative from the San Fernando Valley Partnership Against Substance Abuse, attended the event to show support for the cause.

The Gridley students released red helium balloons with anti-drug and anti-alcohol pledges attached, spreading the message as far as the balloons would carry them.

Closer to home, students from all seven of the schools tied red ribbons to trees, posts and fences throughout the neighborhoods surrounding their campuses.

Florence Weber was sweeping leaves on the sidewalk outside her house near Adelphia Avenue as a line of Gridley students stopped to wrap narrow red ribbons around the trunks of nearby trees.

“I think that’s just great what they’re doing,” said Weber, 55. “Especially since I have 10 grandchildren.”

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Luis Munoz, a third-grader at Gridley, said it was nice to get outside and see the neighborhood, but insisted that the outing was not just for fun.

“We’re doing this so our people don’t do drugs,” Luis said. “So they’ll know that you’re not supposed to.”


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