Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of columns to be shared with Mount Airy News readers by the Surry County Substance Abuse Recovery Office.
October is the month for the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation called Red Ribbon Week (Oct. 23 – 31). Red Ribbon Week is celebrated to pay respect to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who was murdered in 1985 while investigating drug traffickers in Mexico.
Each year a contest is held where students design the theme for the next Red Ribbon Week. This year’s theme is “Drug Free Looks Like Me,” created by Marin Wurst, a seventh grader at Solon Middle School in Solon, Ohio. The theme is a reminder that every day Americans across the country make significant daily contributions to their communities by being the best they can be because they live Drug-Free.
Red Ribbon Week is intended to be a fun and effective program for community members and especially our youth. There are many ways to participate which include communicating with children about the importance of staying drug free and the meaning behind this year’s theme. Another important mission of Red Ribbon Week is to educate and bring awareness to our youth by using creative and consistent messaging.
Given the current opioid epidemic facing our country, Red Ribbon Week is as important as ever. Help us spread awareness and educate children and families about the consequences of drug use and the importance of a drug free lifestyle. The Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery is partnering with the Mount Airy Rotary Club and Surry County Schools to get the word out to as many children as possible by celebrating Red Ribbon Week in our high schools. Students will be given information about Red Ribbon Week, receive a red ribbon to wear, sign posters in their school, and sign a Red Ribbon Pledge card.
We are also going to have Special Agent Dirk Ballou from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) speak to high school students. Special Agent Ballou served nine years in the United States Army Special Operations, in which he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his 2003 tour in Afghanistan. Since then, he has spent 18 years working for the DEA in southern Arizona, Afghanistan, West Africa, and now is the Resident Agent in Charge of the Greensboro Resident Office. We are honored to have our DEA Special Agent take such an interest in our county and we greatly appreciate the partnership.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, we will be kicking off Red Ribbon Week a bit early by having a tent at Fisher River Park’s 20th anniversary from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please come join us and help us celebrate the largest substance use prevention activity in the United States. Starting on Monday, Oct. 18, Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery will partner with the Surry Health and Nutrition Center to have Latinx/Latine Outreach by having Red Ribbon information in Spanish and English.
If you, or someone you know, would benefit from learning more about Red Ribbon Week and our planned activities, please contact me, Charlotte Reeves, Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery Community Outreach Coordinator, at email@example.com. Visit our website at surrycountycares.com for more information about substance use disorder and the many resources in our county.