Following the murder of Drug Enforcement Officer Enrique Camarena in 1985, communities began wearing red ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raising awareness of the devastation caused by drug use. The wearing of ribbons led to the implementation of Red Ribbon Week, which is now marking its 34th anniversary and takes place this year from October 23 to October 31. As communities raise awareness about the dangers of drug use and educate youth, this week of national and international recognition continues to grow.
There are many ways that schools throughout the country participate in these activities, including poster contests, guest speakers, and bulletin board displays. Additionally, educators teach students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse through classroom lessons.
Finding age-appropriate resources is crucial to achieving student understanding and developing a life-long awareness of the dangers of drug use. One excellent starting point is the TeachersFirst Red Ribbon Week Special Topics Page. Resources in this collection include links to lessons and activities for students of all ages.
One excellent resource for use during Red Ribbon Week and throughout the school year is the website of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (reviewed here). NIDA shares lesson plans, conversation starters for parents, classroom resources on the effects of drugs, and National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week resources.
Upon visiting the site, take advantage of the links on the left side of the page to find four primary content areas. This information includes:
- Lesson Plans:
- Lessons in English and Spanish correlate to Common Core Standards, National Council for Social Studies Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.
- Topics include information about opioids, prescription stimulants, drugs, the brain, and more.
- Lessons are for grades 5-12, and some lessons for older grades include adaptations for lower grades.
- Parent Conversation Starters:
- Includes information on how to talk to teens about drugs.
- Shares links to apps and virtual tools for staying healthy. The apps support reducing stress, quitting smoking and vaping, dealing with bullying, and help for children of parents with substance abuse problems.
- Classroom Resources on Drug Effects:
- NIDA Scientist Virtual Q&A Videos – scientists answer teens’ questions about drugs and addiction.
- The Mind Matter Series PDF documents include a Teacher’s Guide and a series of focused lessons on different kinds of drugs and their effect on the brain.
- National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge Kahoot – test your knowledge about drugs and drug abuse. Play as a guest or use your Kahoot account to share and modify the included questions.
- National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW):
- Includes ideas and resources to prepare for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week on March 20-26, 2023.
- The Planning Guide shares five simple steps to preparing and promoting a successful NDAFW event.
- Explore ideas for activities for your event that include crafts, videos, a Kahoot quiz, and conversations with answers to teens’ 10 frequently asked questions about drugs.
During Red Ribbon Week, provide students with facts and information that reinforce the dangers of substance abuse in addition to contests and activities. NIDA is a great place to find the most up-to-date information about drug and alcohol abuse to share with students, parents, and others in your community.
What additional ideas and resources do you have for supporting Red Ribbon Week? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!