By Christine June, USAG Kaiserslautern Public AffairsOctober 16, 2007
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany--Parents, children and community leaders here will be shouting, "Look at Me, I'm Drug Free," during National Red Ribbon Week, which is being held Oct. 20 to 28.
Red Ribbon Week encourages everyone to take a visible stand against drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Participants usually sign pledges and wear red ribbons to show their personal commitment to a healthy, substance-free lifestyle.
"This week challenges the community to make a year-long commitment to support drug-free lifestyles," said Heather Robinson, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator.
Garrison planning for the observance was done on multiple levels. The first was with the Students Against Destructive Decisions chapters and Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Services counselors at the Kaiserslautern American Middle and High Schools.
For example, KAMS has a theme for each school day during the week such as pajama day or twin day. The school's Red Ribbon Observance will end with a Halloween Dance planned from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 27 at the school's cafeteria.
"Significance of Red Ribbon Week is to recommit to a drug-free lifestyle and raise awareness of fun things to do without drugs," said Jacqueline Frawley, Kaiserslautern middle school ASACS counselor.
Both the middle and high school ASACS counselors worked with Robinson to plan for a community-wide event outside of the schools. For the first year, the garrison will host a Red Ribbon Relay scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 27 at the track and field by the Vogelweh Commissary.
Robinson said all units, schools and agencies are invited to participate in this team event. Trophies will be presented to the team with the most number of laps and the most number of participants.
The Red Ribbon campaign was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered Kiki Camarena, an undercover drug enforcement officer, in 1985. Within weeks of his death, Camarena's congressman and a high-school friend launched Camarena Clubs in his hometown of Imperial Valley, Calif. The tradition of making pledges to lead drug-free lives and wearing red badges of satin - red ribbons - as a symbol of Camarena's memory was created at these clubs.
Eventually, Red Ribbon Week became a nationally recognized observance to honor Camarena and reduce demand for drugs through prevention and education programs.