Neighbours students celebrate Red Ribbon Week

By Mandy Underwood

Looks of awe and excitement flooded the faces of elementary students at O.J. Neighbours Elementary School on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 31 as they entered the school to find police officers, fire fighters, and Elroy the Elk greeting them with hugs, ribbons, stickers and bookmarks.

The purpose of this special morning greeting for the students was to raise awareness about drugs, encourage them to make good decisions, and to feel comfortable around law enforcement and let them know that they are there to help.

This year marked the second year that the Wabash Elks No. 471 put together this event.

Spearheading the plans was Susie Keffaber, Wabash Elks Drug Awareness chair.

“This week is Red Ribbon week, so we just want to raise extra drug awareness in the community,” she told The Paper of Wabash County.

“We set up a display for [the kids] in the cafeteria all week and then we hand out red ribbons and bookmarks and talk with them about what this week is all about. The kids get excited and this year they seem to know more of what’s going on and they like to get the ribbons and the bookmarks.”

Red Ribbon week is a nationwide campaign started by National Family Partnership in 1985 in response to the murder of Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent.

Camarena was tortured and killed on Feb. 7, 1985 by a group of men at the age of 37.

In memory of Camarena and his efforts to end the circulation of illegal drugs, his friends and family began wearing red satin ribbons.

Soon, Camarena became a model of coalitions aimed at raising awareness of the destruction that alcohol and drugs causes.

Now, nationwide, the Red Ribbon Campaign is used to educate youth about the dangers of drugs and promote drug prevention.

Wabash County Sherriff Ryan Baker told The Paper the importance of this event.

“We want to let the kids know that drugs are not a good option,” he said.

“It’s also important for us to be here and let the kids know that we care about them.”

Matthew Bruss, Chief of Police explained that it is also important to help the kids feel comfortable around law enforcement. 

“We want to make the kids more at ease with us, introduce ourselves and let them know that we’re not the bad guys.”

Posted on 2019 Nov 05