The last week of October is most often thought of as Halloween week, but here at Ypsilanti Middle School (YMS), October 23-31, 2012 also honors and celebrates Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest substance prevention campaign in the United States. Started in response to the kidnapping and murder of DEA Special Agent, Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, the week honors Special Agent Camarena’s dedication to fighting the harmful drug trade. Red Ribbon week is celebrated through awareness-raising activities and wearing Red Ribbons. Participants make a pledge to be drug-free and to end substance abuse. At YMS, Red Ribbon Week is organized and led by YMS student members of SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions.
Originally founded as Students Against Drunk Driving, SADD’s name and mission expanded in order to respond to the complex world through which teenagers and adolescents navigate. For the past two decades, SADD has been a leading organization in the prevention of harmful activities such as alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, violent behavior, eating disorders, and aggressive and reckless driving. SADD is an inclusive, student group that helps students to make positive choices, educates about risk factors, and enhances protective factors, such as strong social skills, self-discipline, resilience, and the ability to make positive relationships. These protective factors balance and buffer against risk factors and negative influences. SADD promotes positive youth development and empowers students within their schools and communities.
Throughout the school year, SADD members share positive and preventative messages among friends and peers. Red Ribbon Week serves as one of the main campaigns for the group. In 2011, students raised awareness by organizing a school-wide activity each day of Red Ribbon Week. One day was called, “Bright Colors, Right Future” Day which asked the school community to wear bright colors to school. Another day featured a “Celebrity Wall Display” that showed both the positive and the negative impacts of substance abuse among celebrities. The week finished with “Bright from the Inside Out—Turn the Lights Out on Drugs” Day by having students wear glow-in-the-dark bracelets and turning the lights off during lunch. The student response throughout the week was positive and receptive to the messages of the campaign.
Student interest and recruitment of SADD members is off to a great start for the 2012-2013 school year. Second-year SADD members bring a year of experience, while new members bring fresh ideas. This year’s national theme is “The Best ME, is drug FREE.” SADD members are eager and excited to reach out to their school and community through Red Ribbon Week by raising awareness and educating not only for a week, but every day.