Fort Campbell will observe Red Ribbon Week Oct. 26-31 education and awareness activities aimed at preventing alcohol or drug abuse.
“Red Ribbon is a campaign in which the target population is children,” said Sabrina Bell, Employee Assistance Program coordinator at Fort Campbell, which is part of the post’s Army Substance Abuse Program, or ASAP. “The thought is if you can reach a child at an age in which change can be effective, it would deter them from making poor choices related to drug distribution or consumption. This began the continuing tradition of displaying red ribbons as a symbol of intolerance toward the use of drugs.”
Fort Campbell ASAP assists Families through the Employee Assistance Program.
“The program assists Families in coping with stressors that can result in alcohol or substance use if stressors are not managed in a therapeutic manner,” Bell said.
The Red Ribbon Week campaign focuses on promoting awareness about substance abuse and the impact it can have on children, Families and communities, Bell said.
Because of COVID-19 safety precautions, ASAP will not engage in activities this year, but has distributed awareness materials for Fort Campbell schools, Bell said. The materials included bracelets with substance abuse awareness messages. Addressing issues related to substance abuse is imperative in combatting the opioid crisis.
At Marshall Elementary School, guidance counselor Mary Joiner said their Red Ribbon Week activities, scheduled Oct. 26-29, give faculty and students a chance to have important discussions while also having fun.
Although substance abuse education is always important, having a special week to raise awareness helps get children engaged and it ties in with other lessons, like anti-bullying.
“We use the Red Ribbon Week to tie into our guidance lessons,” Joiner said. “It’s early prevention for the kiddos. We teach them how to be able to say no to drugs and alcohol. But it’s more than just learning to say no. It’s education. We teach them why you say no. We teach them the ins and outs and dangers of it.”
The Red Ribbon Week targets students from kindergarten though high school, Joiner said.
“We don’t just talk about it once a year and that’s it,” she said. “Red Ribbon Week is our kickoff. When we teach about drugs and alcohol prevention, we roll that over into bullying because a lot of time, that’s a part of using drugs and alcohol and whatnot. Throughout the year, we focus on positive decision making.”
That works to build self-esteem, strong moral character and standing up for one’s beliefs, Joiner said.
Each day of Red Ribbon Week, the Marshall students will have a theme to follow so they can dress up and that makes it fun for them, she said.
“The whole staff gets involved,” Joiner said. “Every day we have a dress up day, like on Monday, the 26th, it’s wear your red ribbon and wear red. It’s kind of our symbol to say no to drugs and alcohol. Tuesday, it’s team up against drugs and bullying so you wear your favorite sports team attire. Wednesday is hippie day, peace out to drugs … Thursday is wacky tacky day. Drugs are whack, so dress up wacky tacky.”
Joiner said it is important to reach children when they are young.
“Saying no to drugs and alcohol is a huge factor because it effects everything about you,” she said. “It effects your self-esteem, your education, your future, everything about you.”
Building a strong foundation can prevent problems in the future, Joiner said. Children get especially excited when grown-ups take part in the fun.
“We need the staff involved because they are role models, so [students] look up to them and when the staff is involved, the kids tend to be more involved, as well,” she said. “They might not understand everything we teach them or everything we talk about, but they get the gist of it, enough to build upon.”