October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program reaching millions of Americans during the last week of October each year. By wearing red ribbons and participating in community anti-drug events, young people pledge to live a drug-free life and pay tribute to DEA Special Agent Enriqué “Kiki” Camarena.

Special Agent Camarena was an 11-year veteran of the DEA assigned to the Guadalajara, Mexico office where he was on the trail of the country’s biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers. On February 7, 1985, he was kidnapped, brutally tortured, and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers. His tragic death opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of drugs and the international scope of the drug trade.

RAYSAC (Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition) and Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare are excited to once again sponsor Red Ribbon Week in the Roanoke Valley as a way to demonstrate our commitment to a safe and  drug-free Roanoke Valley.

All schools in the Roanoke Valley – Roanoke City, Salem City, Botetourt County, Craig County and Roanoke County public schools and all private schools in our area – are encouraged to participate in the week-long drug and alcohol awareness events to promote a drug-free lifestyle for our youth from October 21st – October 27th.  Elementary, Middle, and High Schools can compete for school awards which are given to the schools that best illustrate the spirit of Red Ribbon Week. Individual students in Elementary school participate in a poster contest; Middle and High school students participate in a media contest.

This year’s theme is “Life is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free.”™ The Candlelight Ceremony and awards presentation will take place a week after Red Ribbon Week on Sunday, November 11th at 3:30pm at the Hotel Roanoke.  For more information about the contests, the Candlelight Ceremony and RRW activities, please visit www.RAYSAC.org.

Parents, talk to your children about Red Ribbon Week.  Ask them what their school is doing to raise awareness about alcohol and other drug abuse. Use your voice; they will listen!