Every year in October, many schools and community organizations participate in Red Ribbon Week. As students come home each day with their red ribbon pinned or stuck to their shirt, many parents and community members do not recognize why we celebrate red ribbons during the last week of October.

Red Ribbon Week was created after Kiki Camarena, a DEA agent was killed in the line of duty in 1985 by drug traffickers in Mexico City. Officers decided to wear Red Ribbons in honor and remembrance of Agent Camarena and soon the tradition grew into a national campaign. 29 years after her death the campaign is still growing and her life and legacy will be celebrated October 23rd-31st this year. The campaign adopts a theme each year and 2017 will be no different. “Your Future is Key, So Stay Drug Free” is the national theme for anyone who chooses to participate.

Every year we wear our Red Ribbons as a symbol for our intolerance of drugs and the violence they can produce. Every year we encourage our youth and community to wear their Red Ribbons with pride and chose to live a drug-free life.

During this week East Alabama Mental Health’s Prevention Department encourages you to talk with the children and youth in your lives and help them understand the importance of living a drug-free life. Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs and alcohol are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t. Only 25% of teens report having conversations with their families about drugs and alcohol.

We also encourage our local businesses to take a stand and show their intolerance for drugs in \our community by placing Red Ribbons on their doors or messages on their marquees to show the youth in our community that it is okay to be drug-free and to show your intolerance proudly.