“Will this even make a difference?”

As the leaves begin to turn and there is a chill in the air, I know Red Ribbon Week is just around the corner. Having worked in the prevention field for the last 20 years I understand the importance of teaching our young people about making healthy choices and how this can impact their role as successful adults. Red Ribbon Week is not only an opportunity to educate but also to recognize those who have sacrificed to protect our young people from the devastation of substance abuse and addiction, and it is a time to honor the many young people who have taken leadership roles in educating their peers and their communities about making good choices.
I remember the countless hours of sorting ribbons to be distributed, planning events and participating with school children and youth-serving organizations in celebration of this particular week. I remember the faces of young people as they walked in parades and participated in events proudly displaying their ribbons or wristbands and wondering, “Will this even make a difference?” Today, I can honestly say I believe it does. Maybe not for all but for many this event may have impacted their lives just enough to keep them from taking that first drink of alcohol, smoking that first cigarette or using that drug for the first time. And just maybe it is the memory they needed when temptation was all around them.
So I commend those who continue to educate our young people about the harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco and the multitude of drugs that exist in our world today. They are truly some of my greatest heroes in this tough battle. Though only a week has been carved out each year for targeted alcohol and drug prevention education, the information and experiences shared can be far reaching and long lasting.
Kudos to all of the prevention educators and supporters who work tirelessly during Red Ribbon Week to carry the message of health and hope. You ROCK!
Wishing you a fantastic Red Ribbon Week!
Carol Spiker, past Kansas Red Ribbon Chair

2 thoughts on ““Will this even make a difference?”

  1. Carol nice entry and to answer the question to the title of your story I would agree with your statement that it will make a difference to some. As you are well aware of in the field of prevention it’s hard to capture and measure what we prevented in terms of using a substance for the 1st time. Sometimes things as simple as passing out Red Ribbons, participating in a parade or just hearing someone talk about their experience with substance use is enough to keep a person from trying alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Often times you hear the phrase the ripple effect and often times working in prevention is like the ripple effect because you don’t know who your message is going to reach. So I like you would like to commend everyone and say keep fighting the good fight to help our young people make good/healthy decisions as it deals ATOD use because you never know who your efforts will touch.

  2. Carol, you make some really good points. Can someone really make a difference? We all want to leave behind a legacy and sometimes just the little things that we do to influence others can make that difference. I am always impressed by those that take up the cause of saying no to alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs and just leading others by example. I just want to applaud all those that take up the cause to teach and lead, especially to our young people, during this Red Ribbon week. These young people are tomorrow’s leaders and the ones that will take this fight forward long after we are gone. They are the difference makers!