October 27 is Red Ribbon Sunday, an opportunity to make the faith community an important part of your Red Ribbon Week celebration. This is the day when churches are encouraged to provide red ribbons to their congregations.
Several weeks to a few months prior to Red Ribbon Week, our local churches and ministerial alliances would be contacted, and orders would be taken for red ribbons. We would also provide them with an update of local youth substance abuse data. Working as they do in their own church communities, it is not always possible for church leaders to be aware of the “big picture” of youth substance abuse in the community as a whole. That is the role of the coalition.
Many churches would welcome either a paragraph in their bulletin about Red Ribbon Week or would even allow us to create an insert. Be sure to check out the size requirements for both options. This would provide a good way to promote our Red Ribbon Week itinerary. And one year, one of our coalition members, a minister, created a non-denominational prayer that we shared with all of the churches to use on Red Ribbon Sunday.
We’ve often used churches as sponsors and locations for town hall meetings, parent classes and trainings during Red Ribbon Week. They often have excellent kitchen facilities, nice-size meeting rooms and good parking.
Prevention of problem behaviors, including substance abuse, aligns itself with the efforts of churches in helping their congregations choose healthy behaviors as well as being examples for others in the community. Research has demonstrated the importance of regular involvement in a religious community as a protective factor to keep youth substance free. It is only fitting that we use Red Ribbon Week as a way to strengthen our connections to the faith community as a partner in our efforts.
I hope that Red Ribbon Week 2013 is a huge success, and that this information has “inspired” you to increase the participation of the faith community not only during Red Ribbon Week, but throughout the year.
Teresa Briggs, Director
Flint Hills Regional Prevention Center
Teresa Briggs worked as executive director of a community coalition, Emporians for Drug Awareness, for 12 years before joining the Flint Hills Regional Prevention Center. Red Ribbon Week was one of the biggest and most popular community-wide celebrations sponsored by the coalition.