By Ely Schosek
Red Ribbon Week is observed annually all across the United States at the end of October as a campaign that raises awareness for the prevention of alcohol, tobacco and the use of other drugs along with, the prevention of violence.
The Springville-Griffith Institute School District observed Red Ribbon Week this past week.
Students, parents, educators and community members nationwide are presented with a unique opportunity each year by being given the chance to create the theme for that year’s Red Ribbon Week.
This year, a student from Griswold Middle School in Griswold, Conn., created the winning theme of: “Send A Message. Stay Drug Free.” This theme was selected out of thousands of entries.
In 1985, an agent for the US Drug Enforcement Administration; DEA, named Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by drug traffickers. Camerena had been working undercover in Guadalajara, Mexico, for four years prior to his death.
When Camarena informed his mother of his decision to join the US DEA, she tried to talk him out of it knowing the dangers the job would surely have. His response was simple: “I am only one person, but I want to make a difference”.
His skills and devotion had made a difference: the discovery of a multi-million dollar narcotics manufacturing operation in Chihuahua, Mexico. A few months later, Camarena’s body was found. Camarena’s hometown of Calexico, California was devastated; they began wearing red satin badges in his honor but that was only the start of something much larger.
In the months that followed, Duncan Hunter, a California Congressman, and a teacher named David Dhillon began “Camarena Clubs” in California schools. The coming years held much promise for the fight in support of Kiki Camarena.
In 1986, the members of these Camarena Clubs sent a statement to First Lady Nancy Reagan who soon launched widespread drug prevention agendas. The following year, Red Ribbon Week really began to take shape; parent-teacher organizations in California, Virginia, and Illinois wore red ribbons in late October and early November.
The first official National Red Ribbon Week was held in 1988 and was coordinated by the National Family Partnership; NFP.
The National Family Partnership was founded by a group of parents who were motivated to attain a leadership role in the anti-drug movement. Established in 1980, NFP is a non-profit organization that continues to sponsor the National Red Ribbon Campaign.
In observance of Red Ribbon Week, schools oftentimes organize assemblies for younger students along with some other activities. Students are asked to show their support by wearing red on the designated day.
At SGI high school, members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) tied red ribbons on the doors throughout the school early Monday morning.
Red ribbons serve as a symbol of drug prevention in order to reduce the demand for illegal drugs. It is also a symbol of commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. It stands as a stimulus to promote communities to educate youth and encourage their participation in drug prevention activities.
Camarena believed that even though he was only one person, he truly could make a difference, and it’s evident he has.
For more information on the Red Ribbon Campaign, visit redribbon.org.