Annual Red Ribbon Week: LP Takes a Stand Against Cancer

Maria Cieslarczyk, Staff Reporter

Lake Park celebrated its annual Red Ribbon Week from Monday, October 23rd to Tuesday, October 31st.

According to the National Family Partnership, “Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest nationally recognized drug prevention program in the United States. It reaches millions of young people each year.”

Red Ribbon Week was started as a form of remembrance for undercover DEA agent Kiki Camarena, who was murdered by drug traffickers in Mexico City in 1985.

Red ribbons are not just worn as symbols of the personal choice to stay drug-free, but to also honor the sacrifices made by American law enforcement, and to emphasize the idea that no one should die due to violence from drugs.

Wearing a red ribbon presents unity and visible commitment for a drug-free country and future.

To spread awareness about substance abuse, Lake Park participated in their own theme days during this time. The National Family Partnership runs a contest for a logo or theme, and this year’s themes were days picked from former years.

Monday was wear red to “Put A Stop To Drugs”; Tuesday was wear neon for “Too Bright For Drugs”; Wednesday was twin day for “Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Drugs”; Thursday was wear crazy socks to “‘Sock It’ to Drugs”; Monday the 30th was wear college gear to “Celebrate A Drug-Free Future”; and Halloween was wear a costume to “Say ‘Boo’ To Drugs!”

“Lake Park uses constant messages such as different SSP’s and 20-second Tuesdays to draw attention towards these spirit days and the meaning behind them. The importance of Red Ribbon Week is to encourage good-decision making,” says Dominic Manola, Vice Principal and Activities Director.

Former Lake Park graduate from the 2004 class, and now Substance Abuse Counselor, Gina Horsley, agrees.

“I work with kids considered to be high-risk-whether they themselves are suffering from substance abuse or are around someone who is; kids with recently divorced parents or loved ones passing away,

“I have worked with students who accomplished graduation even when they had previously believed it was not possible. Students get to press the reset button on their lives because they get the support and treatment they need,” she said.

Horsley was one of the most active promoters and organizers behind Lake Park’s Red Ribbon Week and shares her personal connection to the importance behind the vivid red color. “I suffered substance abuse myself as a student in this building. I was sober two weeks after my graduation, and have stayed clean for thirteen and a half years.”

She goes on: “The benefit of my position is that my specific focus is meeting with students; talking to them about their day or helping them with any resources they may need. Students can really benefit just being on the same level with someone.”