Vail Daily letter: Thanks for support | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Thanks for support

A grant from Vail Resorts EpicPromise has allowed Red Ribbon Project to engage Eagle County students in a comprehensive and dynamic program designed to promote positive youth development. As part of this program, students are provided with concrete strategies to help them resist drug, alcohol and tobacco use. This "Life Works" program also effectively supports the reduction of violence and other high-risk behaviors.

As you may know, schools struggle with children and teens engaging in risky behavior. Participating schools are appreciative of Red Ribbon Project providing additional support because schools often times are not always able to address these behaviors in a regular school day.

This past school year, Gypsum Creek Middle School, Berry Creek Middle School, Brush Creek Elementary School, Battle Mountain High School, Red Canyon High School, Homestake Peak School and Eagle Valley High School all implemented the "Life Works" program as part of the school day. At participating schools, students were given a chance to work on negotiation skills, overcome shyness, enhance self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety and manage anger. The program utilizes a strengths based approach as the necessary building blocks for healthy development.

Key evaluation results demonstrate that Life Works is positively impacting youth. For instance, the students were asked about risk taking behaviors that they had engaged in prior to the course and were asked about behaviors again at the conclusion of the course. Youth participants showed remarkable declines in risk taking behavior including, but not limited to, self-harm, tobacco, marijuana, alcohol and other illegal drug use.

During one particularly dynamic high school session, Matthew (not actual name of student) was wrestling with the concept of valuing what others thought of him. "I don't care what anybody thinks of me. I am my own person — screw them!" was blurted out in response to the discussion of actively creating a personal reputation. As the group continued to delve into the need for a reputation that would support employment in the community and respect from family, school, and friends vs. a reputation derived from criminal activity, poor grades, violence and defiance, Matthew's closing statement was "Then fine, I care what the important people in my life think — just not the jerks!" Matthew's grades improved from that day forward as he had discovered a personal motivation to guide his choices and actions.

This program is made possible by Red Ribbon Project's commitment to its vision of a community that values sexual health and well-being as well as the generous financial support from EpicPromise.

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If you are interested in learning more about Red Ribbon Project's programs, contact Denise Kipp at denise@redribbonproject.org. Red Ribbon Project provides great opportunities to empower students to grow as leaders, providing them with social and emotional support to navigate their teen years.

Denise Kipp

Executive director, Red Ribbon Project