D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) summed up the devastation of drugs in one crisp sentence last week:
"I've gone to more wakes in the past 60 days than I ever care to again," Crawford said at the kickoff of a two-month program to give drug-free youths in the city some positive reinforcement.
Crawford, Mayor Marion Barry and several other city officials joined in the event, which honored 15 public school students and featured New York Yankees star Dave Winfield. Winfield's private foundation is to lead a series of antidrug assemblies and workshops and then help stage a March 29 gala at Constitution Hall.
Winfield said that just "saying no" will not help youth to stay away from drugs. He unveiled a new title for his program, "Turn It Around," a phrase popular in baseball for hitting a hard-thrown fastball. He said the phrase is more positive and suggests action against drug abuse.
Barry said the media and the public routinely hear about "the tragedy of drug use and substance abuse . . . . Very rarely do we hear about the positive . . . . "
But Barry also acknowledged that many efforts against drug abuse have either not worked or had limited success, and he warned against high expectations.
Private firms that will participate in the drug-free programs include Pan American World Airways, Giant Food Stores, Brigg Owens Associates, WHUR Radio and the National Basketball Association, according to organizers. Gene Upshaw, head of the National Football League Players Association, also is participating.
Students honored were:
Tre Ezerett and Tasha Whitted, both of Ballou Senior High School; Teresa Atta, Shannel Battle and Danielle Browne, of H.D. Cooke Elementary School; Alicia McKay of McKinley Senior High School; Eric Abraham and Kevin McKinley of Spingarn High School; Joyce Davis and Lordes Martin of Wilson High School; Muhammed Abdul-Sabur of Eastern Senior High School; Jacqueline Alvarado, Juan Ferman, Mark Owens and Jose Ragsdale of Lincoln Junior High School.
Selections were based on academic, athletic and leadership achievements.