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Kids Defy Gravity in Ropes Course
By Lance Cpl. Luis R. Agostini
MCB Hawaii

MCB HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(Aug. 16, 2001) — "D.E.F.Y.! D.E.F.Y.! D-E-F-Y!" Defy alcohol! Defy drugs! D.E.F.Y.!"

"I can't hear you!"

"I'm D.E.F.Y. proud!"

That was the chant heard at the beginning and end of Drug Education For Youth's trip to the Ropes Course at Ewa Beach, Friday morning.

"I expect kids to gain confidence out of the course, and we want the mentors to be able to get the kids to trust them," said Sgt. Henry Jones, D.E.F.Y. director.

D.E.F.Y. kicked off the day at Ewa Beach with a group stretch, with Jones leading the exercises. Next was a game of human knot, in which children used teamwork and communication skills to free themselves.

Several children interlocked hands, and the objective was to have every member free themselves from the group.

"Elephants and giraffes" was next. A circle was formed around an individual who would randomly point out another person and call out an animal, such as an elephant, giraffe, or frog. The person called on emulated the animal's facial gestures, and the people on each side of him or her supported the person with the selected animal's lower-body movements. They had five seconds to put together the animal.

The group moved on to the obstacles. Safety harnesses were used for all of the obstacles.

The participants divided into two groups, and alternated turns at obstacles, which included the "Breathtaker", a pulley system where a group member is elevated by his team members who are pulling a rope attached to the child's harness, which is then let go for a swing.

The other obstacle was the dangling line and zip line. The D.E.F.Y. members ascended a wooden pole, walked across a rope while holding on to another rope overhead, went across and then took a ride on the zip line. After all members completed the obstacles, they made their way to the bus and back to K-Bay. The day at Ewa Beach gave the mentors, who are Marines from different units who volunteered their time, a chance to interact with the children.

"We want to influence them in a good way at a young age," said Staff Sgt. Jon Jerome, D.E.F.Y mentor. "We educate children about some of the things they may face in the street, like drugs, alcohol, and gangs," said Jerome.

"Kids will watch and emulate every move you make and every word you say, so you have to be careful around them. You really have to adjust to kids in this program," said Sgt. Henry Jones, D.E.F.Y director.

"Everything the kids do, the volunteers do. We can't smoke, drink soda or do other things people normally do in a regular environment," said Jones.

"Some kids just stay home, watch television and play video games. D.E.F.Y. gives kids a chance to get active, learn and have fun," said Jones.

Mentors must go through a two-day training curriculum, which covers different subjects such as child safety, different types of abuse and D.E.F.Y. history. D.E.F.Y, which is a Navy/Marine Corps-wide program, has been received with open arms.

"It helps when you have an active command such as ours. We get a lot of support," said Jones. red ribbon icon

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