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On-Site Staff / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

The Red Ribbon

Red Ribbon Week

We are going to start with a little game. I am going to quiz you to see how well you know social issue awareness colors. I will provide you with a single color and I would like you to identify all of the social issues that color represents.

Here we go: Red.

How many social issues were you able to identify?

At this point you are probably asking yourself, “Why is he asking such a question?” or “How does this possibly relate to me and what I do?” The answer is: substance abuse prevention.

From October 23rd through the 31st, millions of students will walk into their schools and will be handed a red ribbon in celebration of Red Ribbon Week. This red ribbon will not represent HIV awareness, epidermolysis bullosa awareness or heart disease awareness, but substance-abuse awareness.

Red Ribbon Week History

2015 Red Ribbon ThemeThe first National Red Ribbon Celebration was held in 1988 and was sponsored by the National Family Partnership in response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena in 1985 by the drug cartel. The community united after this tragic event and began wearing red ribbons to raise awareness of the killing and the destruction caused by drugs within their community. Now 30 years later, an estimated 80 million people will participate in Red Ribbon Week activities this year.

Red Ribbon Week can be and should be so much more than simply wearing a ribbon. This celebration is an opportunity to bring better awareness to both youth and adults about the importance of preventing young people from substance abuse and addiction. Substance abuse prevention has one primary goal: to delay the first use of alcohol or other drugs. Research has indicated that early substance use increases a person’s chance of developing an addiction. Substance abuse prevention works to empower youth to make healthy and positive choices concerning use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

So, what is it that you are doing to make this celebration more than just wearing a ribbon?

One way to have a greater impact on preventing youth substance use is to have youth develop and lead alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention activities. Since now is the time to start planning for Red Ribbon Week, take this opportunity to allow youth to step up and take an active role in the planning. For prevention activities to be successful youth have to be engaged and who better knows what activities are engaging for youth than youth? Here is one way for you to have youth assist in planning Red Ribbon Week activities:

  • Visit the Red Ribbon Campaign’s website and download the free “2015 Red Ribbon Planning Guide.” This guide provides different ideas for activities ranging from poster contests and chalk walks to pledges and parent phone messages.
  • Have the student consider activity ideas. In small groups, ask the youth to write down or draw ideas that they have for Red Ribbon Activities.
  • Next, have the student identify the steps necessary to make this activity a reality, including considering who needs to be involved, and what supplies or materials are needed. This is when the planning takes place.
  • Last, have the students step up as peer leaders and engage each other in the activity. Utilizing this peer-to-peer model will help strengthen leadership skills as well as assist in engaging more youth in activities.

With Red Ribbon Week coming up in a little over a month, it is important that every student and youth know the significance behind this substance abuse prevention campaign. Together, we can all work to keep children, families, and communities safe, healthy, and drug free.

For breakfast I had, Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich with a tall coffee.

Author Profile: @ericevans

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