Red ribbons on mailboxes, trees, houses and shirts may be a common sight this week as a nationwide effort to educate people, especially young people, about making correct choices about drugs begins.
The first national Red Ribbon Week begins Oct. 23 and representatives from the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth, Inc. and Drug Free Youth of America are encouraging people to show their support with red ribbons."We want red ribbons everywhere," said Utah's Red Ribbon Campaign chairwoman Bethine Bernhisel, who has sent letters to countless community and Church leaders in an attempt to inform them about the campaign and its theme "The choice for me - drug free." Sister Bernhisel said wards in the Salt Lake area are really getting involved.
In addition, ward members have been encouraged to wear ribbons in their hair, tie ribbons around their jack-o'-lanterns, and decorate their yards with red ribbons.
Wards, stakes and schools in Utah County are also supporting the project wholeheartedly, said Utah County chairwoman Shauna Pusey.
According to Sister Pusey, almost every school in the area is encouraging students to wear red ribbons throughout the week. Most meetinghouses will be decorated by Young Men and Young Women groups. And several boys have used the red ribbon project in their Eagle projects - one boy even organized the effort in his stake and decorated Orem's city center.
Many wards also have organized special sacrament meeting programs around making the right choice about drugs, Sister Pusey said.
"This whole county is going to be ablaze with red," she said. "We hope there won't be anyone in the county who doesn't know what those red ribbons mean."
The red ribbon campaign originated when Federal Agent Ernique Camamena was murdered by drug traffickers in 1985. A former National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, Inc. board member was enraged and urged NFP workers around the country to wear red ribbons symbolizing their protests against such violence.
"I guess my hope would be that when I go to bed on Oct. 31 - when the campaign is all over - that everyone has heard about the red ribbon and what it means," said Sister Bernhisel.
"This campaign is really only just a beginning," explained Sister Pusey. "We're not going to make the Red Ribbon Campaign a one-time project. Instead we're going to use it as a springboard for other projects to educate and help our young people make correct decisions about drug use."