A military helicopter with the Joint Counterdrug Task Force touched down at Redlands Middle School Tuesday morning hoping to touch the lives of students.
The Colorado National Guard landed an OH–58 Kiowa on the football field in front of cheering students at Redlands Middle. The mission, to send a message.
"Stay healthy and stay off drugs and we hope the aircraft really brings that, really seals that in your mind," says, CWO Ron Trani, the Kiowa’s pilot.
District 51 officials say the effectiveness of these demonstrations is hard to gage. But that they can’t hurt. "It can only be a positive; it can boost anything that we are doing as a school district as well as what the schools are doing individually," says, Tim Leon, district 51's safety coordinator
Leon says the district is always concerned about substance abuse in local schools. In the last youth risk behavior survey conducted by the county 25 percent of students surveyed say they had their first drink of alcohol before the age of 13. 50 percent of students say they have tried smoking.
Leon says the Kiowa’s landing is something that the students will always remember and hopefully the message that drugs are dangerous will be part of that memory as well. "The earlier we intervene on the gateway drugs the better chance we have of keeping kids away from the harder drugs," says, Leon.
And while the students enjoyed getting a close up look at the chopper, the pilots also had a bit of fun. Trani says "You're kinda like a super hero for a day." A hero spreading the word one chopper landing at a time.
The Colorado National Guard’s joint counterdrug task force will visit 75 schools throughout the year.