Established in the 1980s, the Red Ribbon Week drug prevention program is celebrated by more than 80 million of the nation's young people each year. Students wear red ribbons, pledge to lead drug-free lives and participate in a number of school and community-sponsored Red Ribbon Week events. They also honor Kiki Camarena, the man who was the inspiration behind this special week.
Kiki Camarena was a DEA veteran who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers in 1985. After Camarena's death, hundreds of students in his hometown of Calexico, California pledged to lead a drug-free life to honor Camarena's work.
The first National Red Ribbon Week was established a few years later by the National Family Partnership (NFP) and supported by President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. Red Ribbon Week has been observed at the end of each October ever since.
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How Students Are Celebrating Red Ribbon Week
Schools, businesses, the faith community and community coalitions encourage students to celebrate Red Ribbon Week each year. Although everyone celebrates differently, most students start by wearing red ribbons as a symbol of their choice to lead a drug-free life.
Many school districts also use this week to reinforce drug free messages. Police officers and DEA agents visit schools around the nation to educate students about the dangers of certain drugs. Some schools even hold contests and themed days to make Red Ribbon Week activities more fun for students.
For example, elementary school students at Beaver Dam Unified School District in Wisconsin will be decorating grocery bags to be handed out at the local Piggly-Wiggly. Fourth and fifth graders at Harris Elementary in Fort Wayne Indiana will write essays on 'How I Can Be Drug Free.' Students in Marco Island, Florida will participate in a poster decorating contest. And young people in San Marcos, Texas will don superhero gear to show that they can 'be a hero everyday' and live drug-free.
More Red Ribbon Week Activities
You can find suggestions for Red Ribbon Week activities and details on how other students are observing this national celebration on the following websites:
- National Family Partnership - NFP, the organization behind Red Ribbon Week, hosts a special campaign within a campaign each year. This year's campaign is 'Lock You Meds.' Parents can learn more and sign a pledge sheet on NFP's site.
- Prevention Partners - Prevention Partners offers suggestions for dozens of Red Ribbon Week activities for rallies, classroom, communities and churches.
- The Teachers Corner - This teacher's website provides a wide range of printables, decorating ideas, journals and activity pages for teachers to use during Red Ribbon Week.