Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week began in 1988 in honor of DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who was kidnapped and killed in Mexico in February of 1985. Agent Camarena, then 37, had uncovered a multi-billion dollar drug scam in which he suspected officers of the Mexican Army, police forces and government. As he left his office one day, five men appeared at his side and kidnapped him. His body was found one month later in a shallow grave; he had been tortured and beaten.


The first Red Ribbon Week was proclaimed in 1988 by the U.S. Congress in support of Agent Camarena and the cause he gave his life for -- combating drugs. The week is marked by the wearing of a red ribbon to send the message: Live drug-free!


National Red Ribbon Week is the last week of October. SADD chapters are encouraged to celebrate Red Ribbon Week to symbolize their commitment to a healthy, drug-free lifestyle and to create awareness of the problems related to the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

The purpose of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a visible commitment to a safe, healthy and drug-free lifestyle. 

The campaign is designed to accomplish the following:


  • to create awareness concerning the problems related to the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs

  • to support the decision to live a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

  • Red Ribbon Week Activities to consider:

  • Paint the Town Red – Put up banners and exhibits in your school and in other community locations explaining the symbolism of the red ribbon.

  • Encourage your city's mayor to officially proclaim Red Ribbon Week. Plan a community-wide celebration that includes fun activities, live music, games and food. Emphasize that everyone can have fun without drugs.

  • Decorate your community with red ribbons. Tie them on parking meters, tree branches and park benches.

  • Distribute red ribbons to students and school personnel and ask them to wear the ribbons all week.

  • Make Red Ribbon announcements each day of the week.

  • Set up an information table at lunch or recess.

  • Sell Red Ribbon grams (Send one to everyone on campus!)

  • Give out small prizes, such as Hershey's Kisses or Smarties, to people caught wearing red ribbons later in the week.

  • Show a video at your school about the danger of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.

  • Invite a member of the DEA in your area to speak to the students about the dangerous consequences of using drugs and the legal implications.

  • Visit your middle school and elementary schools and speak to the students about the red ribbon and ask them to wear one as a commitment to be drug-free.

  • Give out red ribbons and lollipops during your city's Halloween celebration.

  • Conduct a red ribbon poster contest in the elementary school depicting dangerous drugs and their consequences.

  • Host a family Strides for Safety Walk. Present everyone with a red ribbon to wear. Ask kids to write songs or chants they can sing during the walk.

  • Set up a health fair in your school. Invite local agencies to set up displays and exhibits with hands-on activities emphasizing the consequences of using tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

  • Place red ribbons on all school lockers and in teachers' mailboxes as a reminder to remain drug-free.

  • Ask your local newspaper to print a red ribbon and message in the paper.

  • Develop a red ribbon message and ask local radio stations to play it for you.

  • Ask your local cable station to do a show about Red Ribbon Week. Also ask them to run printed messages on their message board encouraging viewers to be drug-free.


Send Us Your Ideas!


These are just a few of the ways to celebrate Red Ribbon Week in your school and community. You may have additional ideas and activities. Let us know about them and SEND PHOTOGRAPHS. Paint the town red!


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