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Red Ribbon Week – Future is Key, Stay Drug Free

Mind, Body & Soul

Red Ribbon Week – Future is Key, Stay Drug Free


National Family Partnership (NFP) is a nonprofit organization committed to drug prevention education. NFP started the National Red Ribbon Campaign in 1985 to raise awareness for the negative consequences of using drugs. They also advocate to policy makers, and provide drug education and prevention literature.

This year, Red Ribbon Week is October 23rd-31st and the theme is The Future is Your Key to Stay Drug Free.

NFP offers a yearly contest for the Red Ribbon Week theme. The winner’s theme is used the following year. Here are the guidelines:

  • Entries must be received by December 1, 2017 at 11:59pm (EST), via email to or via e-mail (see website for address). Please include your name, school, telephone number and e-mail address. Winners will be announced on or before February 12, 2018.
  • Entries should include a Red Ribbon in the design. The actual ribbon should be a double looped ribbon or bow, as opposed to a single loop.
  • Red Ribbon Week is celebrated in schools across America, with banners and signs hung from marquees and fences. Your theme or design should fit well within that context.
  • Themes should be brief and catchy. This year’s theme is “Your Future Is Key, So Stay Drug Free.” Other recent theme slogans include “Love Yourself. Be Drug Free,” “The Best Me Is Drug Free,” and “It’s Up To Me To Be Drug Free.”
  • The red ribbon should be prominently featured in the design but you may also use other colors.

In addition to participating in the theme contest, there are many ways to get involved in Red Ribbon Week. The easiest is to wear red or purchase and wear a red wristband. Children at schools are provided these wristbands and encouraged not to take them off during the week to show their commitment to staying drug free. You may purchase these bracelets as well as other drug free-themed items on their website.

During the week, ask your child what they learned at school about the message of Red Ribbon Week. Some schools have assemblies, which are great experiences for the kids and makes it easier to learn what they’re learning. Consider attending the assembly to hear first-hand what they’re teaching, which will make it easier speak with your child.

Purchase age-appropriate books to read together. Alternatively, read one yourself or talk to a professional, and then share with your children. (These can be tricky topics!) Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations!

Write an article about Red Ribbon Week and submit it to the newspaper or a local webpage to get the word out. Encourage your child to write about their thoughts and experiences surrounding drugs, and submit it to the school newsletter. If you’re also a teacher, you may wish to make this a class exercise.

Support your school during Red Ribbon Week by helping volunteering with the activities. If your school doesn’t do Red Ribbon Week, create a team and take on the challenge!

Some ideas:

  • Host a contest to decorate classroom doors in the year’s theme, with the winning classroom receiving a prize.
  • Create a Miles of Quarters Campaign. Find a long red ribbon and encourage students to cover it with quarters. Then donate the money to NFP or another organization dedicated to education and prevention of drug use. You can also do this at home or in the workplace.
  • Recruit someone with personal experience to speak with the school about their drug history, or invite someone who works with people addicted to drugs to speak.
  • Organize a school-wide rally. Dress in red and create signs with the current year’s theme. Create a chant and march around the school. Consider taking it a step further and doing it in your neighborhood.
  • Create a school-wide drug-free pact and encourage students to sign them. These could even be attached to the above-mentioned rally signs.
  • Share all this information on your school’s website and social media sites to increase education and participation.

But the most important way to celebrate Red Ribbon Week is to lead by example – eat healthy and don’t consume drugs, tobacco or alcohol.

Working together in our families and our communities to observe Red Ribbon Week, we can educate our youth about drug abuse and its negative consequences.

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Lynn has been writing as long as she could hold a pencil. She's currently working on a memoir about adopting through foster care and has been featured on numerous adoption blogs. She advocates for foster care adoption in Northern California where she lives with her husband of 15 years, three children, and four furry companions.

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