PUBLISHED: 4:52 PM on Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Holst in 20th year of teaching children to 'just say no' to drugs

Courtesy photo
  Dancers of Janice D. Holst took their Red Ribbon Week performance to Whitehorse, Canada in 1996. They are, from left: back, Seva Sewinski, Brittany Trout, Laura Kirkham, Christa Cadiente, instructor Janice D. Holst, Gov. Walter Hickel, Mrs. Ermalee Hickel, Lee Ann Nyman, Jennifer Gundelfinger; middle, Carolyn Nyman, Genevieve Carson, Heidi Denton, Jenner Maher, Britt Arneson, Joni Land and Erica Simpson; front, Andrea Cadiente, Kayla Parker, April Shoemaker, Libby MacKinnon, Hannah Lilliedahl, Jessica Woods and Brittany Dick.
It's not that old sing and dance when it comes to saying no to drugs. It takes perseverance and caring adults to help children learn about substance abuse and how to avoid it.

For 20 years dance instructor Janice D. Holst has been there to help children with such issues.

It started February 1987, when Holst was named Mother of the Year. Surprised at the nomination and honor, Holst was asked how she would make a contribution to her community.

"I was using my brain faster than I should have, and I told them I would develop a song and dance program for kids to say no to drugs," Holst said.

The first show was presented in Juneau in October of that year, and was well received, Holst said.

The following year National Red Ribbon was started and celebrated the last full week of October. The annual event is honored by students across America committing themselves to living drug-free lives. The event started as a tribute to Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who was kidnapped and brutally tortured and murdered by drug traffickers in Mexico.

Holst said she has continued the program each year because her students expect to do it, and older and former students return to help younger dancers learn the steps. The group spends three to four Sundays prior to the performance to prepare for a public show. Holst allows any child to participate in the Red Ribbon program free of charge. This year Glacier Valley Rotary club has donated money for the sweatshirts performers will wear at the show.

"It's really nice, and people like having the kids out there," Holst said.

She said she would like to see other activities featured as well as the dancers and ideas include an open mic time, poetry contest and song writing contest.

"We just wanted everyone to get involved," Holst said. "It's going to be a really fun year."

Schools across the Juneau district also will hold programs and poster contests for students in honor of Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 23-27.

Holst's program will be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Mendenhall Mall. For more information, call Holst at 586-1462. Holst said she is committed to the program because of the message it sends to children.

"I want kids to see that life is great and they can see it through clear minds and clear eyes and get a kick out of life," she said.

"Some kids are in negative situations and this gives kids a chance to know that this is a problem, but they can keep focus and not let that happen to them. Life is precious and happy and healthy."