Red Ribbon Week brings a powerful message to teens about drug use and addiction

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Cinthia Martinez, Corona’s health and wellness coach; Eric Lauer, who holds the same responsibilities at other TUHSD schools; and Cory Nenaber, assistant principal athletics at Corona, helped kick off Red Ribbon Week with a paint job on the school’s football field. – Morgan Treptow for Wrangler News

By Maya Benedict

When parents regularly talk to their teenagers about drugs, those young people are 42 percent less likely to use them. That’s the message from Red Ribbon.org, and it’s one of the catalysts for Red Ribbon Week.

The annual campaign helps students, parents and educators to come together and have open discussions about drug addiction.

The effort began in 1985 and was founded by the National Family Partnership after the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena.

Since then, the Red Ribbon Campaign has spread awareness to millions of people around the world, including students in the Tempe Union High School District.

The annual campaign “is supposed to help people across the country come together and keep children, families and communities safe, healthy and drug free,” said Jayla Castro, a junior at Corona del Sol High School.

Tempe Union High School District kicked off Red Ribbon week by presenting a video about the dangers of opioid abuse to Corona’s varsity football team. The school also painted two large red ribbons on the football field and gave the team stickers to put on their helmets.

“I think wearing the stickers got the football players more involved and spread awareness to more people because a ton of kids go to the games,” senior football player Nick Shobinger said.

The district is also using the campaign to spread awareness about the vaping epidemic that is affecting middle and high schools across the nation. Tempe Union developed the slogan “Vanish the Vape” to teach students about the dangers of vaping. This is part of a two-part campaign where students will be informed about the consequences if caught vaping or with vaping paraphernalia, and the risks to their health.

“We are trying to bring to the forefront the dangers of it (vaping) and obviously there are school consequences that go with that, but that is a last resort,” Corona del Sol Principal Nathan Kleve said. “We want to educate our students first on the dangers of vaping and, hopefully, that makes a difference.”

The district has a strict zero- tolerance policy; however, with a smoke shop in the plaza next door to Corona, it’s a challenge to keep up with the rapid increase of vaping on campus. The Red Ribbon campaign allows the school to address these addictions that students are developing head-on by discussing the seriousness of drug abuse.

“If you think about habits, and how they are more likely to start younger, and you go to a high school audience where substance abuse can begin,” senior Melanie Furman said, “it can help prevent it by reaching them earlier.”

Editor’s note: Maya Benedict is a senior at Corona del Sol High School and co-editor in chief of the school yearbook. She is a student in Kris Urban’s digital communications class and plans to major in journalism.

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