The Roundup -

Do you know why we celebrate Red Ribbon Week?


Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. Many start and end dates of the celebration vary due to organizations or communities, such as ours in Richland County, but they are mainly held the last full week in October. Richland County will celebrate Red Ribbon Week November 3-7, 2014. This year’s theme is Love Yourself, Be Drug Free.

It is important for all of us to know that in fact, more kids DO NOT use substances, than do use. It seems that our focus has always been on telling children what NOT to do, but we are learning it is more effective to show and teach them what TO do, and for praising them on what they are doing right, for example, being a part of the “norm” and not using drugs. This week is a time for parents, teachers, communities and their children to make a pledge to continue to be drug free and to realize to have a future in this world, we must commit to a healthy lifestyle and good choices.

But as I study the reason why we celebrate this week, it is important to realize the true meaning of how this began. Enrique “Kiki” Camarena grew up in impoverished conditions, but dreamt of making a difference in the lives surrounding him. He worked his way through college, served as a Marine, became a police officer and later became an agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He knew he was destined for this job, to make a difference, even though his family was concerned.

He began work undercover in Mexico, investigating a large drug cartel that had infiltrated Mexican agencies. In 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his family. He was met, instead, by 5 men who put him into a vehicle. His body was found a month later, in a shallow grave, where it was determined he had been tortured before his death.

Within weeks of finding Agent Camarena, officials, friends and schools in his hometown gathered to launch Camarena Clubs, for people to commit to remaining drug free and to honor his hard work and true sacrifice. They began to wear red badges and ribbons, and this is where the Red Ribbon campaign began.

As we celebrate this week, let us remember that this is a time to celebrate our children and our community and encourage all to be drug free. But we also must remember it is a time to show our support to the DEA and our local agencies in their fight on drugs and to Agent Camarena’s dedication to our safety and all other men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice towards our struggle with drug trafficking and abuse.

For more information on Richland County’s Red Ribbon Week, follow us on Facebook at Richland County STAND or StAnD4yOUth, or call Missy or Vicky at 433-4097.


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