Contributed By Chris Wood
I think the majority of those reading this blog probably already know the history of Red Ribbon Week and how it got started, so I won’t go into the details of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena’s 1985 death by the drug cartels and the subsequent start of the campaign. What I would like to write about is its importance. The question I pose to you is, “Does Red Ribbon Week make a difference to our youth, our schools and our communities?” Are all the crazy sock days, the decorated classroom doors and the backward red clothing making an impact? Before I answer that question, let’s talk about math for a second.
My daughter, Caroline, is in the 5th grade now and she’s learning the “new” math (Ugh!). Now, how did she get to this point in her math knowledge? (Certainly not with my help!) Did her school provide all that math knowledge at the beginning of kindergarten and then move on to another subject and never bring it up again? Of course not! Each year she reviews and learns a little more from the year before. We build her skills by repetition and by emphasizing that math is an important part of your life. (Even though Caroline would have a hard time believing that statement, we all know it’s true!)
Red Ribbon Week works the same way. Each year we need to wash those crazy socks, find that red construction paper and help our youth learn a little more about substance abuse while reminding them that living drug free is one of the most important parts of their lives.
So back to my question: “Is Red Ribbon Week impactful?” Name another drug prevention program that almost every single youth in Georgia has gone through for the past 30 years. Not even DARE can make that claim. Red Ribbon Week in 2015 is very impactful and is growing stronger each and every year with innovative strategies and campaigns like Paint Georgia Red. So go find those socks and get ready for another great Red Ribbon week here in Georgia!
Chris Wood is currently the Assistant Director of Training with the Department of Juvenile Justice and 2015 marks his 25th year in the substance abuse prevention field. His favorite pair of crazy socks this time of year are his black and orange jack-o’-lantern socks.