Photo Information

Children with the Drug Education For Youth program perform push-ups during a physical fitness activity at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Aug., 8. The D.E.F.Y. program, teaches youth ages 9 through 12 to choose healthy alternatives to substance abuse and gang involvement through a summer camp and year-long support system.

Photo by Cpl. Timothy Norris

Learning to D.E.F.Y. drugs

5 Sep 2013 | Cpl. Timothy Norris

Children of Tri-Command service members learned how to defy drugs with physical fitness at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Community Center, Aug., 8.

The Drug Education For Youth program, teaches youth ages 9 through 12 to choose healthy alternatives to substance abuse and gang involvement.  

The D.E.F.Y. program developed by the Drug Demand Reduction Task Force (DDRTF) in 1993, is either a five-day residential or eight-day non-residential program separated into two phases. Phase one challenges children to embrace positive habits over an eight day summer camp and monthly meetings during the school year.

Phase two is a year of mentoring designed to support the training and education received in phase one.  During regularly scheduled activities, mentors and staff provide tutoring and positive reinforcement through group mentoring and interactive workshops.

The message to abstain from drug use and overcome peer pressure is taught through activities and workshops focusing on building self-image, interpersonal relations, goal setting, leadership, team building skills and physical fitness.

One activity is to role play denying the opportunity to take drugs or become involved in gang activities and distinguish positive from negative peer pressure. Another helps participants learn to resolve conflicts.

“I think it’s really cool,” said Emma Troija, a nine-year-old participant of the D.E.F.Y. program. “My brother used to do it and now he’s a mentor, so it’s easier for him to support me. We’re learning how to not do drugs and keep us fit.”

Participants pushed their physical limits with a max set of pull-ups or flexed arm hang, max set of crunches and push-ups in two minutes each and a one mile run.

“We helped teach them about physical fitness today because mental and physical fitness go hand in hand,” said Cpl. Eric Warner, Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron photographic chief. “We want them to understand that saying no to drugs does more than take care of your body, it helps make you successful at everything you do, and that’s what we want for them.”

Warner said he volunteered to help with the program because of appreciation for physical fitness and because setting a good example for today’s youth is critical to their future.

 “These children are our future,” he said. “They are the engineers, artists, explorers, scientists, and inventors of tomorrow. We have a responsibility to help them reach their potential so everyone’s future can be brighter.”

For more information, call the Laurel Bay Youth Center, 228-7640 or the Parris Island Youth Center, 228-1669.