By: Maddie Borst
It’s that time of year again, Red Ribbon Week. But what is Red Ribbon Week and why does everyone keep trying to get us to buy things like hot brownies instead of pot brownies? At Donovan, we sell food and drinks at breaks to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Athens. We name these sales something exciting such as, “Nacho Drugs,” where the Junior class sells nachos. I remember being a little girl in kindergarten and actually wearing a red ribbon in my hair on the Friday of Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week has many features here at Monsignor Donovan, but the real meaning of Red Ribbon Week has nothing to do with food.
Red Ribbon Week is “the vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children through a commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of a drug free America,” according to www.imdrugfree.com. This week is all about standing up for a drug free community, by taking a pledge to be drug free. This program is one of the longest running drug campaigns in the country, and this year we celebrate it October 29th – November 2nd; however, the national Red Ribbon Week is actually October 23rd- October 31st.
Red Ribbon Week began in 1985 after the murder of a DEA agent,Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.Officer Camarena went into the DEA because he wanted to make a difference in drug use. When he was 37, he was eating lunch with his wife and 5 men showed up and took him away. His body was found one month later. As a result of his murder, his congressman Duncan Hunter and his high school friend, Henry Lozano launched drug free clubs in California. Hundreds of people in these clubs pledged to live drug free lives. They wore red badges and ribbons to honor Officer Camarena’s memory, as he died to end substance abuse.
The wearing of red ribbons was begun this year as a symbol of united people standing up against substance abuse and striving for a drug free America. The red ribbons not only honor the death of Officer Camarena, but also the efforts of the DEA to reduce substance abuse through education and prevention. The goal of Red Ribbon Week is to further the mission of Officer Camarena, to end substance abuse, which he died trying to accomplish. The mission of the Red Ribbon campaign is,” to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a drug free America,” according www.nfp.org.
What some people may not realize is that we do have a massive substance abuse problem within our Athens community. According the research of Public Health Athens, many teens are involved in substance use. 40% of eighteen year olds are binge drinking and 29% of seventeen year olds are doing the same. 29% of eighteen year olds are smoking marijuana and 2% of 12 year olds also smoke marijuana. Marijuana and underage drinking is illegal for many good reasons. These substances alter our mindset and can cause danger to those around us. According to statistics, 2% of 12 year olds are a possible danger to our school systems. 12 year olds should be enjoying their youth, seeing as how they are in the sixth or seventh grade.
These numbers are alarming, and it seems that the idea of Red Ribbon Week is lost in so many school systems. As I mentioned before, I wore a red ribbon in my hair in kindergarten. I have been buying snack sales for the past three years, but I never understood, nor cared why. Athens-Clarke County, needs to prevent and decrease these statistics in order to keep our schools safe and healthy. Red Ribbon Week needs to become a meaningful week in which schools learn about drug abuse and ways to prevent it.
This Red Ribbon Week is really significant in it’s accomplishments and by holding fundraisers and celebration, we are symbolizing a happy, drug free school system. This year the freshman class with be selling candy, the sophomores will make hot brownies, the juniors will sell nachos, and the seniors will sell coke floats. So when you go to purchase your snacks this week, your money is going towards a greater good and the education of the community so that we can move toward a better, drug free America.