MCLB Marines Help
Youth Avoid Drugs
By Pfc. Nicholas Tremblay
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga.(July 19, 2001) A
10-year-old boy is walking home from school when he sees a group
of older children. They are standing in a circle smoking. The boys
befriend the youngster and ask him if he would like to try a smoke.
They also tell him that if he joins their gang they will treat him
like family and look out for him.
Danielle Whitaker and Kesha Moore, who participated
in the Drug education for Youth program, play in the base
pool Tuesday. Swimming was one of the many activities the
DEFY program let the children do as a reward for their time
spent learning about drugs and how to stay away from them.
(Photo by: Lance Cpl. Jason Blaze)
The young boy is nervous, but somewhat excited. Instead of going
home to an empty house, because his mother is working, he could
be making new friends.
As he reaches for the marijuana cigarette, he remembers what he
learned from a Marine during a summer camp at the Marine Base.
Drug use by preteens and teens is rapidly increasing in the United
States. To battle the rise in drug abuse by America's youth, programs
such as Drug Education for Youth have been implemented. This program
was started in 1992 by the U.S. Navy for family members of Navy
personnel, said Pamela W.
Lightsey, community relations specialist for the U.S. Attorney's
Office, Middle District of Georgia.
In 1996 the Department of Justice adopted the program to educate
local community youth on drug prevention and gang violence. The
Department of Justice decided to use Albany Police Officers from
the Weed and Seed program along with Marines from MCLB to be role
models and mentors in the DEFY program, said Lightsey.
For three consecutive years the U.S. Department of Justice, the
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia, the Albany
Police Department, and the Albany Marine Corps Logistics Base have
sponsored the DEFY program.
A summer camp that was held here July 10-18 was a joint effort to
keep local youth drug and gang free. The summer camp is Phase I
of the DEFY program, said Lightsey. It is an intensive eight-day
summer camp that promotes positive self-images, physical fitness,
gang, and drug prevention classes and increases skills in interpersonal
communication, conflict resolution and goal setting.
"We have the children exercise because nutrition and physical
fitness are a huge part of being successful," said Lightsey.
"Anything you want to do in life you need to have good nutrition,
exercise and be physically fit to be your best."
Phase II is a schoolyear mentoring program, which matches adult
volunteers with Phase I graduates, said Lightsey. The focus of this
phase is to reinforce the themes introduced in summer camp. The
mentors and youth will meet for a minimum of four hours a month
for workshops, field trips and special events.
"The children not only have a wonderful time and learn a lot,
but they become friends with these adults [the volunteer DEFY staff]
who influence their lives in a really positive way," said Lightsey.
The Department of Justice has MCLB Marines participating in this
program to help teach, supervise and be role models for the youth,
said Lightsey. "The discipline Marines have and their lifestyle
and good manners make them excellent adults for the kids to look
up to," said Lightsey.
"One thing that the Marines bring to the DEFY program is a
different aspect of life," said 1st Lt. Derick C. Williams,
operations officer for S-3 here. "Coming to the base, these
kids get to see what the military life is like, and to see a product
of discipline (Marines). The Marines that work with the kids will
set good examples and hopefully become their mentors."
During the summer camp, youth were taught to solve problems by using
teamwork, coping with peer pressure and every day stress, and avoiding
drugs and violence, said Lightsey.
While on base the children were taught first aid, CPR basics and
simple marching maneuvers. They also learned that it is important
to exercise daily and to eat nutritiously.
"Marines also bring leadership, experience and knowledge from
when they were kids and how they handled situations involving drugs,
peer pressure and conflicts," said Staff Sgt. Jimmie L. Poole,
training coordinator here.
"The purpose of teaching close order drill is to teach them
discipline, to work together, and to get from point A to point B,"
DEFY sponsors hope to expand the program next year or in the years
to come, said Lightsey. They would also like to make the program
available to children of military personnel. This way, children
from town and children from the base could form new friendships.