DDR develops leadership and teamwork

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Betty J. Squatrito-Martin
  • 154th Wing
Smiles and cheers greeted counterdrug personnel from the Hawaii, Idaho, and Guam Air and Army National Guard as they presented the Drug Demand Reduction curriculum to several youth programs on Guam, June 29.

The DDR program is part of the National Guard Counterdrug Program of each state and territory. The DDR program emphasizes education and training in their drug abuse prevention curriculum for the community.

"We try to get kids motivated to live a healthy life style and get them to set goals through team building activities," said 2nd Lt. Kenley Agtarap, Drug Demand Reduction Administrator, from the Hawaii Air National Guard.

The day's Drug Demand Reduction program kicked off at Enrique R. "Rick" Ninete Tennis Center where Guard members provided activities for children ages 5-15.

"The National Guard team gives positive team building skills to all kids participating in the program," said Debbie Duenas, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Special Projects Coordinator. "They enhance positive action skills for all participants through simple activities that the youth can relate to," she added.

The older children participated in rock climbing while the younger children were taught the fine art of knot tying, a skill they will put to good use when they have to make a three knot rope bridge and cross the deep end of the swimming pool at the next DDR visit.

"After completing the three knot rope bridge, the kids have a little better understanding of what it takes to be a team member and what a team can accomplish," said 1st Sgt. John Pangelinan, Guam, Counterdrug Program Drug Demand Reduction Administrator, Guam National Guard.

Following the events at the tennis center, the Guard members headed to A.V.S. Benavente Middle School where they engaged over 80 eager, lively, smiling and cheering students in team building and leadership activities.

"The middle school was the biggest and most exciting crowd I have ever worked with," said Specialist Bruce Blanton, Counterdrug program, Hawaii National Guard.

The Counterdrug team divided the students in to two groups and led the teens through a series of leadership and teamwork building activities.

We did some team building and leadership skill training with the youth so that when they get older and are faced with challenges, they are better prepared to face those challenges, better prepared to say no to drugs, and to be better people in society, said 2nd Lt. Agtarap.

Once the activities were completed, the Guard members held a question and answer session with the students where the students pointed out that they learned the importance of teamwork and communication when trying to accomplish a task.

The day's activities concluded at the University of Guam with a visit to the Adventure Camp Program where the DDR team challenged the youth with rock climbing. According to Camp Counselor Lani Sablang, the camp offers the children a place to learn new sports and games and is a place where they can be physically active for the summer.

"We challenge the kids both physically and mentally, we keep them active so they'll be in top shape for school," said Jarryd Figueroa, camp counselor.

By the end of the day, the Guard members had provided activities and spread the message to live a healthy and drug free life to nearly 250 children.

"We have provided life skills and techniques they [youth] will need in order to handle themselves when faced with tough decisions, said Lieutenant Agtarap. "Now, it's up to the youth to make the decision about what to do."

"Working with the kids today was fun and exciting. No matter where you go, it's always a rewarding experience," said Senior Airman Christina Rohrenbach, J3 Counterdrug Support Program, Idaho Air National Guard. "You see the end result; the light bulb going off with the kids saying, 'Hey, this is really fun,'" added Senior Airman Rohrenbach.

"We had good success; we touched some lives out here and hopefully instilled some hope in these youth out here to stay drug free," said Specialist Blanton. "We taught them leadership skills and how to have fun and say no to drugs," added Specialist Blanton.

The Counterdrug support mission did not end with the Drug Demand Reduction program, eventually these counterdrug personnel would find themselves traversing the islands of Tinian and Guam as part of the Marijuana Eradication Mission that took place June 30-July 2.

We will have done a total counterdrug mission, said Lieutenant Agtarap. "We need the preventative, DDR, to go along with the operational, eradication, to make the whole program successful," he said.