Red is the color of the week
By Robin Scott
Children all across the Dallam and Hartley Counties area are in the middle of Red Ribbon Week and learning about staying drug free. Activities designed to encourage children to say no to drugs are the highlight of the week and brings a great deal of fun and excitement to school campuses.
Wearing a red ribbon in support of a drug free society has its roots in 1985 and the death of a DEA agent named Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. When he was brutally murdered, his Congressman, Duncan Hunter and a high school friend, Henry Lozano, began Camarena Clubs in Imperial Valley, California. Hundreds of club members pledged to live drug free lives as a way to honor Camarena and the sacrifice he made.
Camarena grew up poor, but worked his way through college, served in the Marines and became a police officer. He later joined the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He was sent by the DEA to work undercover in Mexico investigating a major drug cartel believed to include officers in the Mexican army, police and government. On February 7, 1985, he left his office to meet his wife for lunch and was approached by five men who shoved him into a car. A month later his tortured body was found in a shallow grave. After Camarena Club was born, the club members wore red satin ribbons in memory of Camarena and “red ribbon week” began.
Red Ribbon Week is a week that is dedicated to and promotes a drug free way of life. Students receive anti-drug reminders, red ribbons, stickers and even coloring books that teach about remaining drug free. Students also get to engage in activities that are not ordinarily thought to occur at school, making the week-long event even more fun for them and a change from the regular school routine.
Activities at Dalhart Elementary School during red ribbon week include “I’m a Jean-ius” on Monday when students were encouraged to wear jeans. On Tuesday, students “Socked it to Drugs” by wearing crazy socks. On Wednesday they dressed like cowboys and cowgirls for “Texans give drugs the boot.” On Thursday they will wear their favorite sports team jersey to “Stay in the game,” and they will finish the week by wearing pajamas to school to “Follow your dreams!” Getting to wear pj’s to school is always an exciting event for the kids and one of their long-time favorites.
As the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the U.S., Red Ribbon Week encourages kids to stand up against drug use and to pursue their hopes and dreams. Students are asked to tell their parents about what they are learning in school and they generally bring home a reminder for parents too, such as a red ribbon for each parent. Parents are encouraged to listen to their children talk about what they have learned and to ask questions. Students will learn about not abusing prescription drugs as well, so parents should answer a child’s question about why a prescription drug bottle is in the medicine cabinet and how it is important to use prescription drugs when a doctor believes it is necessary. Keeping drug free means not abusing illegal drugs, and not illegally using legal drugs. A drug free America, and world, is what the celebration is all about.
For more information on Red Ribbon Week visit www.camarenafoundation.org or www.casac.org.