Red Ribbon Week celebrated Oct. 23-31

Penny Whoolery, Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist for Crossroads Counseling Services, encourages Belmont, Harrison and Monroe county youth and adults to celebrate National Red Ribbon Week.

Red Ribbon Week, the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country, will be celebrated the last full week of this month, Oct. 23-31, 2010.

Drug-free activities are encouraged any time during the month. Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children through a coordinated commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal of having drug free communities.

During Red Ribbon Week 2010 on October 27, the National Family Partnership will launch its "Lock Your Meds" campaign which will focus on the growing prescription drug abuse problem and what families can do to reduce access to these addictive drugs.

Red Ribbon Week commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by DEA special agent Enrique Camarena who died in Mexico fighting the battle against illegal drugs as he fought to keep our children and our country safe.

Enrique Camarena grew up in a dirt-floored house, worked his way through college, served in the Marine Corps and became a police officer. When he decided to join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, his mother tried to talk him out of it. He told her, "I can't do it. I want to make a difference."

The DEA sent Camarena to work undercover in Mexico investigating a major drug cartel believed to include officers in the Mexican Army, police and government. On February 7, 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent's side and shoved him into a car. One month later, his body was found in a shallow grave. He had been tortured to death. Since then, hundreds of thousands of young people have honored his sacrifice by pledging to lead drug free lives. This is the pledge parents are asked to take:

1. As parents, we will talk to our children about the dangers of drugs.

2. We will set clear rules for our children about not using drugs.

3. We will set a good example for our children by not using illegal medicine without a prescription.

4. We will monitor our children's behavior and enforce appropriate consequences, so that our rules are respected.

5. We will encourage family and friends to follow the same guidelines to keep children safe from substance abuse.

The following are creative ideas for classrooms, youth groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops, after-school programs and other groups of children throughout the Ohio Valley:

* Wear red clothing all week or on a specified day.

* Plant bulbs to grow a red ribbon flower bed in the spring.

* Tie red ribbons onto trees, fences or door knobs.

* Paint small stones red and make them look like lady bugs.

* Make red pompoms for car antennae.

* Pack an all-red lunch.

* Make red velvet cupcakes and share them with friends.

* Take a red flower to a homebound friend. Share a drug-free message.

* Make a large tissue paper rose for a parent and give it along with your drug-free promise.

* Assemble a red ribbon class diary of drug-free messages.

* Write with red ink all day long.

* Create a drug-free poster for your room.

* Give red candies out to anyone who can state a drug fact.

* Count the number of drug/alcohol advertisements you see in one week.

* Research the life of Enrique Camarena, the DEA agent whose sacrifice we honor.

* Add a red ribbon to your Halloween costume.

* Host a drug-free Halloween party.

* Create "spooky" drug-free Halloween messages and trade them for treats.

* Sponsor a drug-free coloring contest.

* Distribute red suckers with a message -- "Lick Drug/Alcohol Problems."

* Celebrate with Crazy Red Socks Day with the message -- "Sock It To Drugs."

* Hold a boot day with the message --"Give Drugs the Boot."

* Create artwork using red buttons, pieces of fabric and other red materials.

For more information about the observation of Red Ribbon Week, call Penny Whoolery, Substance Abuse Specialist for Crossroads Counseling Services at (740) 695-9447 or (740) 676-5741.