Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week

RED RIBBON WEEK, which is celebrated annually October 23-31, is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention awareness program.  The goal of Red Ribbon Week is to inspire kids to be happy, brave, and drug-free.

In 1988, the National Family Partnership coordinated the first National Red Ribbon Week with President and Mrs. Reagan serving as honorary Chairpersons.  Since then, the Red Ribbon campaign has taken on national significance, and NFP continues to coordinate the campaign for families, schools, and communities across the nation each year.  Wearing red ribbons during the month of October continues to represent our pledge to live drug-free and honors the sacrifice of all who have lost their lives in the fight against drugs.

Empire Union School District is joined by thousands of schools across the country use Red Ribbon Week to engage youth in dialogues about the importance of making positive life choices and avoiding the temptation to use drugs and alcohol.

Below are five tips to help teach these important lessons and empower students to build bright futures for themselves!

1. Talk About Habits

Talk with students about what habits actually are. Many will already have an understanding of the concept, but it’s good to take time to bring awareness to everyday positive habits we don’t always think about, like brushing our teeth after meals, washing our hands after using the bathroom, or recycling. We can also talk about moral habits that help us be better people, like telling the truth and treating others with respect.

Most research suggests it takes 21 days to form a simple habit, like drinking a glass of water before bedtime. However, establishing more significant habits, like going for a walk every morning or eating fruit at lunch, takes up to twice as long.

2. Model a Healthy Diet

Teaching students to look at food as fuel can have a huge impact on their eating habits. It’s important for children to develop a healthy relationship with food early on so that they can recognize when they are hungry or full, snack responsibly, and maintain a balanced diet.

Modeling a healthful diet is one of the best ways to teach your students about eating right without labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”  So, when students see u pulling out a yummy snack like mixed nuts and dried berries or munching on baby carrots at lunch, they’re really seeing us teach them how to listen to hunger cues and enjoy some energizing treats.

3. Focus on Staying Active

When most of us think of staying active, we usually think of going for a run, hitting the gym, or getting in a daily workout. Young children don’t need to work out in the same way that adults do, but it’s still important for them to get plenty of exercise and activity.  It’s important for children and adolescents should do one hour or more of a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activity each day.

4. Teach Strategies for Stress Management

Stress comes in many forms—it can be good or bad, internal or external, sudden or gradual, or temporary or chronic. While none of your students may appear to be experiencing any kind of long-term negative stress, it’s crucial to educate students on ways to identify stressors and practice stress-management skills so that they can learn how to cope with their stress in healthy, constructive ways.

And, teaching students about stress doesn’t have to be stressful! Start by having a discussion as a class about what stress is, how it makes us feel both inside and out, and how different things can cause stress. Once students have identified their own stressors, ask them to think of physical activities that help them relax and become happy or activities that they would like to try.   Always remind students that stress is a part of everyday life; it can’t be avoided, but learning how to identify and cope with it can help them live happier healthier lives.

5. Unplug

In a world where a computer can fit into your back pocket, is it any surprise how much time children spend plugged in on social media, playing video games, watching videos, and listening to music? Technology is a wonderful thing, and when used appropriately, it can certainly improve student learning. However, technology overuse can do more harm than good. Talk to students about how much time they spend on their tablets and computers or watching TV when they have free time. Have them brainstorm some other screen-free activities they can do instead. Discuss some healthy tech habits, like not using devices right before bedtime or limiting screen time to two hours per day. For today’s students, building a healthy relationship with technology is key.

While Red Ribbon Week is devoted to raising awareness for one piece of the puzzle to a healthy lifestyle—being drug-free—there are lots of other positive habits that are critical for students to build from a young age. Whether it’s eating right and exercising or saying no to drugs and alcohol, teaching young students to actively develop healthy habits will give them the tools they need to build strong foundations for successful futures.