“Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country,” according to imdrugfree.com. Red Ribbon Week occurs during the last week of October each year and is a time to educate young people and help prevent drug abuse. The Red Ribbon Campaign was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered DEA agent Kiki Camarena in 1985. This began the continuing tradition of displaying Red Ribbons as a symbol of intolerance towards the use of drugs. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a Drug-Free America, according to redribbon.org.
Drug-Free South has participated in the campaign since 2009 by distributing copies of The Truth About Drugs booklets, which help young people understand what drugs are and how they affect the user, visiting school classrooms to deliver a seminar to students utilizing the documentary The Truth About Drugs: Real People, Real Stories, and getting the Drug-Free World public service announcements played on television.
This year Drug-Free South volunteers have lined up a series of events to commemorate Red Ribbon Week. “We are visiting Benton County, Crockett County, Rutherford, Jefferson and Campbell County and will see thousands of people. This is going to be a fun, fast-paced week where we hope to really reach people with this information on the truth about drugs,” says Brian Fesler, regional coordinator for the Drug-Free South.
Drug-Free South has provided seminars to students in over thirty counties in Tennessee. One school which received a lecture was Smyrna West Alternative where a teacher expressed his gratitude by writing a letter to the volunteers. He noted the program “is a highly informative, mind-grasping look at the dangers and horrible realities that addiction creates. Just say no is not just a cliché or a challenge for teens to try drugs after this program; it becomes a hard-hitting, in-your-face demand that has real meaning and power.”
Drug-Free South is the Tennessee chapter of the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, an international non-profit organization. Its materials demonstrate the dangers of drugs through factual information and interviews with former addicts giving personal perspectives on each of the substances covered. For more information, visit drugfreesouth.org.