Choose to Refuse: Red Ribbon Week for Healthy Decisions


William Hsieh

The Red Ribbon was first worn in 1985 in response to the death of drug-enforcement agent Enrique Camarena and has since served as the symbol of drug prevention, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.

Ki Joon Lee, Marketing Manager

ASB organized Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 22 to Oct. 26 to spread awareness against substance abuse through a raffle sponsored by the Parent Teacher Student Association.

“Substance abuse definitely has a big impact on teens in Irvine,” wellness coordinator Maureen Muir said. “We are seeing a larger increase in marijuana use because it is now easier to obtain, and it can be a go-to for teens that are really stressed out.”

Students entered a raffle by a signing a Red Ribbon pledge, promising to make healthy decisions and stay drug-free. Each day, winners were chosen from the house with the most pennies collected. Winners received one of the prizes provided by the PTSA, including tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood.

“What we wanted to do is promote awareness and up the game of how we do things at this new school. This week we did a lot of drawings of what teenagers would actually want,” PTSA vice president of enrichment Matthew Weidner said. “We are just offering neater prizes but also at the same time it also gives the message that there is an awareness for staying off drugs and staying a good leader.”

Despite the popularity of the raffle, some students say that the activity was not impactful enough to truly deliver the message of drug prevention.

“I personally don’t think it was effective because people didn’t really understand what they could do to prevent that from happening and how they can make healthy decisions. It was just a raffle; some people just did it for the sake of doing the raffle,” service project commissioner and junior Dheitshaa Bala said. “[In the future] we want to do activities for the students that promote the message rather than just them doing something solely for an incentive.”