MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Drug Education For Youth is not just another nationwide program, it’s a necessity. Children are the future.
The DEFY program is one of many organizations that began solely for the education of younger generations, specifically providing awareness of the devastating effects drugs have on individuals, families and the population as a whole in a fun learning environment.
A very special group of young teens graduated from Phase II of the DEFY program, after a year of character building and drug education, during a graduation ceremony at the Maynia celebration aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Saturday.
Robin Schoolfield, DEFY program director, said Phase I of the program was a two-week summer camp. During Phase II, the teens met once a month and learned character building and study skills.
They also covered personal safety, internet safety and bullying.
“They all had a lot of fun, but a lot of character building to make them future leaders and outstanding, drug-free citizens,” said Schoolfield.
The DEFY graduation is always around the same time as the annual Maynia events, and the graduates have a choice whether to hold a private ceremony or have it at Maynia.
Of course, Maynia always wins, Schoolfield said. Maynia is the perfect opportunity to spread the word about DEFY and speak with families about the benefits of the program.
Lance Cpl. Mollie Suchecki, with 2nd Radio Battalion, said she became a mentor during the first phase of DEFY, enjoyed working with kids throughout its second phase, and she continued to fall in love with being a part of the team.
“Kids are always fun to work with,” said Suchecki. “In the first phase, they were all by themselves and now, they’re a group. Hopefully, they practice everything we taught them and never do drugs.”
Next year, Suchecki is slated to be the DEFY camp director, who is responsible for all junior mentors and DEFY participants.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Suchecki. “My goal is just to be able to help the kids even more. Back in high school, I had friends who made bad choices and it really affected their lives today. My goal is to make sure these kids don’t go through the same thing. As long as I can help at least one of them, I’ll be happy.”
David Meaderds, DEFY graduate and junior mentor, said after he graduated once from the program, he decided to come back and help.
“I used to be just one of the kids but now I’m one of the junior mentors,” said Meaderds. “I wanted to help the kids, like DEFY helped me. At first, I was a skeptic, thinking of how boring (drug education programs) could be. But it was really fun and I learned a lot. I know I’ve seen people my age (do drugs), and they always seemed to be having a good time. But I learned that if I ever did it, it could’ve really messed up my life.”
Schoolfield said children can only go through the DEFY program once, but some have the opportunity to return to the program as junior mentors.
Registration for the next DEFY Phase I has already begun, and the summer camp will be July 17 through 27.
For more information about DEFY, visit mccslejeune.com/defy.