Red Ribbons Draw Attention to Drug Abuse Prevention

Article excerpt

Byline: McClelland & Noble

Red ribbons across the Fox Valley: Educators and students hope the public will take note of the red ribbons they're wearing through the end of the month - and, more than that, take note of the message they carry.

The ribbons symbolize a commitment to stop the spread of illegal drugs and the misery they produce. Thousands of local students are participating in Red Ribbon Week activities following that theme.

The celebration began nine years ago, sponsored by the National Family Partnership. The group wanted to honor Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who - while fighting the war on drugs - was murdered by narcotics traffickers in Mexico.

The commemoration since has spread across the United States. For whatever reason, two separate weeks have been designated for Red Ribbon events: in Illinois, Oct. 20-24; nationally, the following week.

Students in Elgin Area Unit District 46, for example, are taking part in several contests, said prevention coordinator Marlene Berman.

There is a poster contest for children in grades kindergarten through fifth, a classroom-collage competition for those in grades third through eighth, an essay contest for grades sixth through 12th and a public service announcement competition for high school students.

All contests center on the theme "The future is in our hands."

In addition, the district's Safe and Drug-Free Schools office is collecting student- and community-decorated muslin squares for a giant quilt.

The 12-inch squares will be sewn together in the three-year-old Murals Reflecting Prevention program. Project coordinator and artist Miki Karson is shooting for a whopping 2 million squares illustrating the need for drug and violence prevention - a collection she hopes to complete by 2000.

Anyone wishing to donate a square can contact Karson or Berman at (847) 888-5000, ext. 7006.

A variety of Red Ribbon activities are planned throughout the Fox Valley.

Dundee-Crown High School students will sign contracts pledging to stay alcohol- and drug-free.

And, for the second year, the Carpentersville Police Department is setting up an informational booth on Oct. 29. The event is a popular one with students, said Barbara Harren, faculty sponsor of Snowball and SADD Together Adding kNowledge and Direction.

Meanwhile, the focus will be on fun at some schools, like Algonquin Middle and Neubert Elementary. …