City supports anti-drug message

Published 9:57 pm Saturday, October 22, 2011

City residents are encouraged to support the city’s young people in their fight against drugs by wearing red this week.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson signed a proclamation designating this week “Red Ribbon Week” in the city. Representatives from the Suffolk Substance Abuse Youth, the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council and the Office on Youth came to the Oct. 19 City Council meeting to receive the proclamation and present their message.

“When we bring problems forth from our peers, drugs remain a large problem — a constant battle,” said Amanda Hamm, chair of the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council.

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Youth Services Coordinator Jennifer Branham presented the history of Red Ribbon Week. It began in 1985 when drug traffickers murdered Drug Enforcement Agency agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena while he was on assignment in Mexico.

According to the DEA’s website, “Camarena Clubs” were soon started in the agent’s hometown, and club members signed pledges to lead drug-free lives. The pledges were delivered to then-first lady Nancy Reagan at a national conference of parents combating youth drug use.

Soon, parents and youth were wearing red ribbons, and the National Family Partnership began the first official Red Ribbon Week celebrations in 1988. Now, the NFP estimates that more than 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon Week events each year.

“Our goal is to educate youth on the dangers of drug abuse of every kind and nature,” Branham told the City Council. “I stand before you tonight asking for your continued support and commitment.”

This week, young people in schools and churches will pledge to live a drug-free lifestyle. The Substance Abuse Youth Council, in partnership with the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council, will host a poster contest in Parks and Recreation after-school programs. They also are asking residents to wear a red ribbon or the color red on Friday to celebrate National Red Ribbon Week.

The displaying of red ribbons serves as a symbol of intolerance towards the use of drugs. For more information, contact the Suffolk Office on Youth at 514-4503 or