Abuse of drugs and alcohol is a growing problem not only in our area, but throughout our country and the world. In response, Lehighton Area School District has taken on the challenge to grow a generation of anti-drug, anti-alcohol abuse as well as anti-bullying individuals.

Earlier this year, the Lehighton Area school board hired Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. to conduct the K-12 alcohol, tobacco, and other drug education prevention programs and services for LASD for the 2012-2013 school year.

Travis Andrews "hit the ground running" this month as the school district's first Drug and Alcohol Prevention/education specialist.

"Obviously, things need to change as far as drug and alcohol abuse are concerned. Lehighton Area School District realizes this and has taken action," said Andrews.

"The best way to fight the problem here and across the nation is through overall awareness."

Working with administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and students, Andrews helps to provide daily programs to students in classrooms.

In support of Red Ribbon Week (Oct. 22 -26,) and National Bullying Prevention Month (October), LASD will host "Operation Saturation" on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Andrews and other WVADS drug and alcohol prevention/education specialists will conduct interactive educational activities for all students in all grades. Each session will carry strong anti-drug and anti-bullying messages.

In addition, a community program will be held in the evening beginning at 7 p.m. at LAHS Auditorium. Three adolescent counselors will present their life-changing experiences, which were caused by their choices relating to drugs and alcohol. All interested community members are invited and encouraged to attend.

Red Ribbon Week began after the kidnapping, torture, and brutal murder of Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena and fellow agents in 1985. Citizens in Camarena's hometown of Calexico, Calif. donned red ribbons in his honor. The red ribbon became the symbol for prevention in order to reduce the demand of illegal drugs.

Today, Red Ribbon Week helps to bring millions of people together to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. It encourages prevention, early intervention, and treatment services. Red Ribbon Week is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States.

For more information about LASD and Red Ribbon Week activities, visit www.Lehighton.org.

Additional information about Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc. can be found at www.WVADSInc.com.