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Each fall, there are many traditions that students and teachers look forward to. Many students look forward to Spirit Week at their school because it gives them a reason to dress up and make memories! At the end of October, many schools celebrate “Red Ribbon Week” in efforts to teach students about drugs and promote a drug-free campus and student body.

Founding Red Ribbon Week

What most people do not know about Red Ribbon Week, is that it was intended to be more than a fun week at school. Red Ribbon Week was created to honor the life of a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He lost his life while trying to keep communities safe, by keeping drugs off of the streets. Special Agent Enrique Camarena, or “Kiki” was kidnapped and killed in the line of duty in early 1985. In honor of his life’s work, several of Kiki’s friends took to local schools to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs. Many students and community leaders pledged to live drug free lives, in Kiki’s honor, and wore red ribbon’s to symbolize their decision. Eventually, the pledges and ribbons gained national attention, so much so that President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy served as honorary chairpersons to the National Campaign. From there, Red Ribbon Week was born!

Foster children’s perspectives may vary

Abuse and neglect are reasons children are placed into DFPS care each day. Oftentimes, parents find themselves so involved with drugs that it causes their children to be in neglectful or dangerous situations. Children in DFPS care may have different perspectives or life experiences than their peers.

In light of Red Ribbon Week, what was intended to be a fun and educational week at school, could be a trying time for a child in Foster Care. To them, it could be a week full of reminders of their biological family, old neighborhood or way of life. A week full of “lighthearted fun” could end up being a week full of difficult memories.


Just like it helps to know why we celebrate Red Ribbon Week, it is imperative that we are mindful of our children’s previous experiences with drugs. We want to do our best to educate our kids on the importance of living a drug free life while not shaming their parents for their choices. The best way to honor Special Agent Kiki’s life, is to educate our children on the importance of why choosing to live a drug free life, truly saves lives.


Pray for our foster kids this week as this topic may bring up some traumatic memories. Pray for our foster parents as they guide a child through behaviors or reactions. Pray for our school staff, that they can discuss this important topic with kids but also be mindful, compassionate and patient with kids who may come from an abusive, drug-related background.

Learn more about Red Ribbon Week here

Written by Mandi Kelly

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