Why do we celebrate Red Ribbon Week?

It is officially Red Ribbon Week! If you grew up in the state of Indiana, chances are, your school celebrated this week. Maybe they handed out a red ribbon or a wristband (I still have two of mine for some reason), made you sign a pledge to be tobacco and drug free, or even brought in a guest speaker to talk about drugs.

But what is Red Ribbon Week and why do schools celebrate it? According to redribbon.org, Red Ribbon week was created in the late 1980s in response to the killing of Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Enrique Camarena, by the drug cartel.

“In honor of Camarena’s memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin,” the site says. “Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs, had begun forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the red ribbon.”

Today, the Red Ribbon Campaign is run by the National Family Partnership, whose mission is to “lead and support our nation’s families and communities in nurturing the full potential of healthy, drug free youth.” They are a strong leader in drug prevention, awareness and advocacy, and also provide numerous drug prevention resources for parents and those working in the field.

On a local level the Red Ribbon Campaign, gives schools the ability to spend one week out of the year focusing on drug prevention and awareness. While most schools just focus on handing out a red ribbon to each student or asking students to make a pledge, this week provides the perfect platform to educate in different ways. Some examples of this could be teaching students how to say no to drugs – instead of just telling them to say no – and introducing them to resources so they can help a friend who is experimenting/addicted to drugs.

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