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It's Red Ribbon Week in Centre County

by on October 21, 2012 9:30 AM

This week, students all around Centre County will be celebrating Red Ribbon Week in schools and in community settings. Red Ribbon Week is an opportunity for youth and community members to unite and take a visible stand against substance abuse.

Red Ribbon Week began in 1985 after the death of a drug enforcement officer who was killed in the line of duty. Enrique Camarena was working undercover in Mexico when he was killed by drug cartel members. To honor his memory, fellow agents and family members began to wear red ribbons. As the word about Camarena’s death spread, community members began to wear red ribbons to honor his memory. Communities that struggle with destruction due to alcohol and other drugs also began to adopt the red ribbon, as a symbol of hope for healthy, safe and drug free communities.

Today in Centre County we celebrate Red Ribbon Week in schools where prevention counselors meet with youth to sign the Red Ribbon Week pledge. The pledge states, “I am drug-free. I pledge to be drug, alcohol, and tobacco free and lead a healthy and positive lifestyle. I pledge to tell others about the dangers and consequences of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. I value my life and the lives of my family and friends. I pledge to be drug-free — this is my commitment!”

The awareness that Red Ribbon Week brings to kids and the community provides a highlights the risks associated with drug and alcohol use. In a community where underage and dangerous drinking is a concern, youth can unite to have their voice heard. Many youth choose not to drink, but are concerned about their peers and the community when high amounts of dangerous drinking occur. By signing a visible pledge to be drug and alcohol free, youth can share with the community that they have better things to do with their time, that they have goals they want to accomplish, and that they will not let drugs or alcohol get in their way.

Finally, it is important for parents to talk with their children about Red Ribbon Week and about the family expectations and guidelines surrounding drug or alcohol use. A report complete by MostDon’t.Org states, “As a parent, we often feel like our teenagers are tuning us out. In reality, just the opposite is true. Even as teenagers are becoming more independent and forming their own personalities, they still report that their parents are the No. 1 influence in their lives.”

Take a minute to ask your child if he/she signed the Red Ribbon Week Pledge and then follow-up with a conversation about your expectations. Our kids are listening.

Ali Turley is a prevention coordinator for the Centre County Youth Service Bureau.

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