By Dawn Hatfield
UNION CITY, Ohio — Students and teachers at Mississinawa Valley Elementary School are really dressing up their 2021 Red Ribbon Week.
Traditionally held from Oct. 23 to 31, this year’s national Red Ribbon Week theme was announced by NFP.org as Drug Free Looks Like Me ™ and was submitted by Marin Wurst, a 7th grader at Solon Middle School located in Solon, Ohio.
Each year, the National Family Partnership sponsors the Red Ribbon Week Theme Contest, which invites Americans across the country to submit a unique slogan that captures the essence and mission of the campaign. Marin’s theme was chosen because it perfectly captures how all of us must do our individual parts to keep our communities safe, healthy and Drug-Free.
“I was so surprised to hear the news that my theme won, and I’m very excited,” said Marin. “Being Drug-Free is important to me because I want to stay healthy and have a good life. I’m proud that Drug-Free looks like me!”
Locally, Mississinawa Valley Elementary students and staff celebrated with their own mini-themes for each day of the week. In addition to wearing red on Thursday to demonstrate their unification as one school standing against drugs, the students and staff participated in several creative approaches such as, Mustache Monday — “I mustache you to stay away from drugs!” and Character Tuesday — “Drugs can be disguised in many ways so dress as your favorite character or hero to scare away drugs.”
Often it is the local chapter of SADD that coordinates Red Ribbon Week in schools. According to Wikipedia, SADD was founded by Robert Anastas at Wayland High School in Massachusetts in 1981 when two Wayland hockey players were killed in separate crashes that July. He and a group of 15 students developed the SADD concept. Originally founded as Student Against Driving Drunk, a new name was adopted in 1997, Students Against Destructive Decisions, to more fully encompass the challenges of teenage life.
SADD went national in 1982 and is currently the only national student-based organization dealing with underage drinking, impaired driving, drug use, violence associated with drug use, and other issues which affect teenagers’ lives.
The mission, found on SADD.org, to “empower and mobilize students and adult allies to engage in positive change through leadership and smart decision-making” is the backbone of SADD’s Contract for Life and helps guide students toward making “one positive decision at a time.”
Today, SADD is more than 8,000 chapters strong across the nation. Rick Birt, President and CEO of SADD, encourages youth, “I know how difficult it can be to stand up for what is right. I know the challenges in speaking-up and sometimes sharing an unpopular opinion. SADD provides an inclusive space to encourage one another, all while educating each other on the pressures of the day.”
Follow SADD on favorite social media channels, @SADDNation.
For information on how to start a new SADD chapter, visit www.sadd.org/resources.
To enter the Red Ribbon Week theme contest, visit www.redribbon.org/theme/contest/ for information. Entries must be received by Dec. 4, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (EST), via email to [email protected].
Dawn Hatfield primarily covers education stories for The Daily Advocate. Have a school-related event to share? Reach out by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-0066.