What does the Red Ribbon symbolize?
Red Ribbon Week began after the kidnapping, torture and brutal murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. Agent Camarena had been working undercover in Guadalajara, Mexico for over four years. His efforts led to a tip that resulted in the discovery of a multimillion dollar narcotics manufacturing operation in Chihuahua, Mexico. The successful eradication of this and other drug production operations angered leaders of several drug cartels who sought revenge. As a result, they murdered key informants and then, on February 7, 1985, they kidnapped Agent Camarena and his pilot Captain Alfredo Zavala-Avelar (taken separately on the same day).
In Agent Camarena’s home town, Calexico, CA, the public outpouring of support turned in to an organized community response in which citizens dawned red ribbons. They became a voice for prevention in order to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and illegal use of legal drugs in America. The following year the California State PTA adopted the Red Ribbon Campaign. Then, in 1988, Red Ribbon Week was recognized nationally with President Ronald and First Lady Nancy Reagan serving as the Honorary Chairs.
Today, the Red Ribbon Celebration brings millions of people together to raise awareness regarding the need for alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention, early intervention, and treatment services. It is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States.
Red Ribbon Week Themes
Each year, a new national theme is developed, with a week’s worth of school- and community-based activities planned, typically the last week in October. Nashua Prevention Coalition provides a small stipend to help offset the cost of red ribbons, posters and other activities to engage children of all ages.
For more information and a National Toolkit, go to http://redribbon.org.