Growing up in the Central Valley, the month of October has always been a special time of the year. It signifies the changing of the leaves, the return of Halloween and the end of the summer heat. Along with breast cancer awareness, October also brings recognition to the National Red Ribbon Campaign.
This lifesaving campaign against drug abuse is organized by the National Family Partnership. It is a nonprofit organization that provides an online resource for parents. One of its goals is to remind us of the destruction caused by drugs in America. During this special week, students across the nation will be encouraged to wear the color red to commemorate the campaign and its efforts of promoting a drug-free life.
Whether it’s the red ribbons covering chain link fences or the catchy anti-drug posters hanging around the campus, school administrators do a fantastic job supporting the drug-free theme. I can still remember the verbiage of my favorite poster from school, “I’d rather eat a bug than do a drug.”
As a child, I hadn’t grasped the concept of drugs. But I never had the desire to eat bugs, and thanks to the efforts of the school administrators and the National Red Ribbon Campaign, I was educated at an early age of the dangers of using drugs. However, like many students, I never knew what started this special event.
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Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena grew up in a dirt-floored house with dreams of making a difference in the world. Agent Camarena worked his way through college, served his country as a Marine, and later became a police officer. On February 7, 1985, while working undercover in Mexico, he was kidnapped and killed while fighting the war against drugs. In honor of his memory, friends, family and neighbors in his home town of Calexico began wearing red satin badges. By doing this, the symbol of the red ribbon came to represent the dangers of drug abuse. In 1988, the partnership sponsored the first ever Red Ribbon Week celebration, and since then the NFP has delivered Agent Camarena’s message of hope to millions of people.
California Highway Patrol officers continue to see the horrible effects of drug abuse each time we arrest a drug-impaired driver. Officers apply great effort to locate and remove illegal drugs from our streets. CHP officers also take part in the National Red Ribbon Campaign. We’ll be attending school assemblies, rallies, and luncheons. Officers understand children are far more at risk than most think, and we take great pride in speaking to the youth about the dangers of illegal drugs. However, we need your help! I encourage you to take the National Red Ribbon Campaign pledge with your children and be a part of the creation of a drug-free America. The pledge is as follows:
▪ Talk to our children and the children in our lives about the dangers of drug abuse.
▪ Set clear rules for our children about not using drugs.
▪ Set a good example for our children by not using illegal drugs or medicine without a prescription.
▪ Monitor our children’s behavior and enforce appropriate consequences, so established rules are followed.
▪ Encourage family and friends to follow the same guidelines to keep children safe from substance abuse.
I challenge you to make a difference in the lives of our youth. Cut this article out, sign the pledge along with your loved ones and post it where you can see it daily. Allow it to serve as a reminder of the commitment you have made to avoid drug use and its awful side effects!