The Battle Ground Prevention Alliance and Chief Umtuch Middle School’s DREAM Team planted red tulips in honor of Red Ribbon Week during the last week of October. Red Ribbon Week is meant to promote youth drug and alcohol prevention.
“The tulip planting for Red Ribbon Week is a common tradition that’s done in communities across the country,” said Jennfier Kirby, coalition coordinator for the Battle Ground Prevention Alliance. “For us, red symbolizes hope and it’s something we’ve been doing in Battle Ground for several years.”
Kirby said the campaign has gained momentum from youth groups wanting to participate. She said they had very few kids attend in previous years, but this year 44 participated. As a result, 600 tulips were planted at Battle Ground Central Park, while 200 tulips were planted the previous year. The program was implemented in Battle Ground five years ago, according to Kirby.
The reason the group plants tulips specifically is because bulbed flowers are planted in the fall and bloom in the spring, Kirby said.
Local businesses like iQ Credit Union, Lewis River Rotary and the Rocksolid Community Teen Center also helped with the efforts. The Lewis River Rotary Club adopted Central Park in Battle Ground as the planting site for the tulips, which they secured as part of the “adopt a park” program, Kirby said. The city of Battle Ground helped the rotary club put in a small retaining wall to expand the planting bed, since there was an embankment in the park, she added.
Kirby believes Red Ribbon Week has led to greater awareness of drug abuse and prevention.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to have a conversation about drug prevention and awareness of drug prevention efforts happening here in Battle Ground,” Kirby said. “We have signs that we put in the tulip bed when the flowers bloom to indicate that the flowers were planted by Battle Ground students, and so it creates that opportunity for us to continue the conversation.”
The DREAM Team also works in conjunction with Battle Ground Prevention Alliance to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors, Kirby said. The DREAM Team is an after-school youth drug prevention leadership program. Before planting the tulips, the group had a conversation about why they were there and what drug prevention efforts mean to them. Kirby said the tulips will bloom for several years as she pointed out similar efforts at the Battle Ground police station. Those tulips were planted several years ago.
Unlike the D.A.R.E. program, Kirby said the Battle Ground Prevention Alliance refrains from using scare tactics when talking about drug and alcohol prevention.
“With the DREAM Team, while we do include education about substances based on facts (not fear), our primary attention is placed on developing positive peer support and helping youth to make healthy decisions,” Kirby said. “With the full coalition, we are working with our community partners from all different sectors of the community to implement prevention strategies that address concerns around youth access to substances, perceptions of risk of harm from using substances, and social norms, for example.”
The Battle Ground Prevention Alliance is hosting a community survey regarding youth substance use and mental health. It can be accessed online at research.net/r/CLBAGREN2021. The group will also host a “Shaved Ice with Santa” fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11 at Opdahl Chiropractic, 105 N. Parkway Ave. in Battle Ground. All of the proceeds will go to the Battle Ground Prevention Alliance and the DREAM Team.
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