Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Red Ribbon Week

The 2011 Red Ribbon Week events take place October 23rd through the 31st and will mark the 24th official Red Ribbon Week. The National Red Ribbon Campaign began after drug traffickers in Mexico tortured and brutally murdered Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in March 1985. Red Ribbon week started as a local effort in Camarena's hometown of Calexico with the creation of "Camarena Clubs," in Enrique Camarena's memory.

The National Family Partnership was founded by concerned parents in 1980 in response to the rising level of youth drug use. In 1988 they created a national campaign of observance, an eight-day event proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by then President and Mrs. Reagan.

Red Ribbon Week is the nation's largest drug prevention effort.   Approximately 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events each year making it a great opportunity to expand all drug prevention efforts.  Showing personal support by wearing the red ribbons is very important, but much more can be done.  The DEA suggests that schools, businesses, the faith community, media, families, and community coalitions come together to celebrate Red Ribbon Week and publicize the value of a drug-free, healthy lifestyle in many ways, such as: sponsoring essay and poster contests; organizing drug-free races; decorating buildings in red; handing out red ribbons to customers; and holding parades or community events.

The DEA provides www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com, a fantastic resource on the fight against drugs for social workers, prevention professionals, treatment providers, school counselors, teachers, parents, and all community members.  Articles about recent drug legislation, how to talk to children about the dangers of drugs, personal testimonials, and a feature article, "20 Ways To Promote Red Ribbon Week in Your Communities and Schools," are among the many interesting stories you'll find here.

Many Indiana communities participate in Red Ribbon week and it's a great way to initiate community efforts and draw attention to other year-round programs.  Indiana promotes the value of a drug-free, healthy lifestyle through programs such as Afternoons R.O.C.K. in Indiana, an afterschool drug prevention initiative.  The acronym "R.O.C.K." represents the mission of the program to provide Recreation, Object lessons, Culture and values and Knowledge through sports, cooking, arts, music and many other focused and supportive prevention activities that are designed to teach youth about social and media influences, conflict resolution and refusal/resistance skills, gang and violence prevention and the structuring of leisure time to be free of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

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By Ted Adams, 10/18/2011