Red Ribbon Week: A drug-free life message for kids
“Life is your journey — travel drug-free.” This is the theme for National Red Ribbon Week this year, which runs from Oct. 23 through Oct. 31.
Schools in Catoosa and Walker counties and the city of Chickamauga run programs during the annual week to teach students about making responsible choices and doing more important and positive things with their lives than wasting away their potential on drugs and alcohol.
To help schools with their outreach, Catoosa Prevention Initiative (CAPI) designed and had produced 10,000 red ribbons for local students. The ribbons have the theme for the year printed on them and have been distributed to all the elementary and primary schools in the area. Funds used for the ribbons came from an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Project grant from the Georgia Department of Behavorial Health and Development Disabilities.
The red ribbon symbol as a statement against drug and substance abuse was born in 1985 when a man by the name of Enrique Camarena was working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, serving in Mexico, fighting illegal drugs that were coming into the U.S. He provided information to the Mexican government that resulted in 450 Mexican soldiers destroying 2,500 acres of marijuana fields that were bringing in $8 billion a year for drug lords.
The action cost Camarena his life. He was kidnapped, tortured for 30 days and killed. He died at 37 years old, after time as a Marine, a police officer and 10 years with the DEA, leaving behind a wife and three children.
The people of Camarena’s hometown in California, as well as people around the country, were outraged over the DEA special agent’s death and began to wear red ribbons to symbolize their anger and grief. Three years later, the National Family Partnership adopted the red ribbon to represent a commitment to helping young people choose drugfree living.
“The red ribbon is a symbol of solidarity to show young people that we all stand together against drugs and alcohol and for something better,” says CAPI project coordinator Candy Hullender. “We want children to know that they have choices. They can choose to say no to drugs and alcohol.”
Hullender and her son, Jaden Maxwell, an illusionist and motivational speaker, spoke at Lakeview Middle School on Tuesday, Oct. 23, to promote Red Ribbon Week and substance-free living. Hullender was eight months pregnant with her son, when her husband was killed by a drunk driver. She says that growing up with that knowledge motivated her son to remain substance-free and to eventually devote himself to helping other young people do them same.
To learn more about Red Ribbon Week, visit redribbon.org.
Illusionist and motivational speaker Jaden Maxwell spoke at Lakeview Middle School on Oct. 23 for Red Ribbon Week, an effort to help students live drug-free.