Editor’s note: The Red Ribbon Project is sensitive about the identity of the students and schools they work in. Therefore, real names are not included in this story.
Martin sits slouched at the table, resentful that he’s in this “stupid class.” He is the only student not eating lunch, stating, “The food sucks here.” The first half of the hour-long “Expect Respect” program continues while Martin remains resentful. At one point, he jumps to answer the presenter’s question: “Who is your best role model?” Martin proudly states it’s his older brother who is about to be released from prison.
The reality of Martin’s life is that he has been expelled from two schools and is on his way to adding number three to his list. His family is broken, rife with criminal behavior. Martin is a victim of the environment he was born into and is repeating the lessons he has been taught.
Jump to the end of the presentation. The students file out muttering, “Thank you” as they head to recess. Martin stays behind.
“That’s not true,” he says. “Of course you have to hit back when someone disrespects you.”
Change A Life
He seems confused that we need not be controlled by the actions of others, and that we are “masters of our own destiny.” Martin stays for an additional 15 minutes, asking rapid-fire questions about the situations in his life and how they might be different. When he finally leaves to enjoy his remaining recess outside, he slowly walks down the hall and with an entirely new viewpoint.
One moment, one perspective, one question can begin to help change a life.
Thank you to Vail Resorts Echo for supporting the Youth Skills Building program with the Red Ribbon Project. This program equips local youth with the skills, education and behaviors they need to live healthy, safe and productive lives. Classes cover topics such as “Expect Respect,” bullying, substance abuse, boundaries and coping with stress.
“RRP brings to our schools topics that we as educators, don’t always have time to address,” said an Eagle County teacher. “Their programs are invaluable, as these are topics that are sometimes more important than the classroom lesson.”
With the recent expansion of the YSB program, the Red Ribbon Project has dramatically increased the number of students it serves. In 2010-2011, 2,339 students participated in the program, compared to 3,858 in 2011-2012. The following school year saw a jump to 4,993 students. Attached to a growth in programs is an increase in the Red Ribbon Project’s budget, making the financial support it receives from Vail Resorts Echo is invaluable.