Believe in yourself. Avoid taking risks that can harm you. Do your best in school. Think positively. Set goals and plan ahead so you can meet them. Be honest. Be trustworthy. Exercise. Show respect for yourself and others. Choose friends who make good choices. Wash your hands and don't do drugs.
Those were just some of the "healthy lifestyle" tips doled out by members of the student council at Gulfside Elementary in Holiday during the Red Ribbon Week kickoff ceremony, where hundreds of students got their groove on during a choreographed flash mob dance at the school's outdoor pavilion.
Held annually during the last week in October, Red Ribbon Week is a national drug prevention program that was created in honor of Enriqué "Kiki" Camarena, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who was tortured and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers in February 1985.
Schools throughout the county participated in the weeklong program with a variety of activities such as making posters, signing drug-free pledges and decorating their campuses with symbolic red ribbons.
The flash mob dance at Gulfside was organized by guidance counselor Monica Capabianco and was inspired by one she saw on Oprah when 20,000 friends and fans surprised the talk show host as she kicked off her 24th season at the Chicago Mall.
Capabianco spent the last month visiting each classroom to teach the choreography and the song to all 600 students at Gulfside so they could perform it in front of parents and principal Chris Clayton during two morning assemblies.
"I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something big to kick off Red Ribbon Week," Capabianco said. "The singing and the dancing — it just inspires joy."