Red Ribbon Week
Red Ribbon Week began in San Diego County when the friends and family of Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena* memorialized his brutal death in Tijuana where he was an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer in 1985, by wearing a red ribbon. This attention to the drug issues of the day gained national attention, and Red Ribbon Week was born, usually the last week(s) of October.
*see Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena story below
Upcoming dates for trainings are:
NOTE: Red Ribbon Week Trainings for 2022 to be held in the late August/early September. Details to be announced.
To support Red Ribbon Week activities, San Dieguito Alliance provides:
- Workshops for PTA/PTO Red Ribbon Week Chairs. San Dieguito Alliance meets with the RRW Chairs of each school district: Carlsbad Union, Cardiff Elementary, Del Mar Union, Encinitas Elementary, Solana Beach Elementary, and the San Dieguito Union High School District, to share RRW ideas and materials. These workshops are co sponsored by the school districts' Safe and Drug Free Schools Coordinators who have federal funding to assist prevention activities. and purchase RRW supplies.
- Teen Presenters. Teen presenters are seniors from Canyon Crest Academy, La Costa Canyon High, San Dieguito Academy, Sunset High and Torrey Pines High who have always been alcohol, tobacco and drug free. The Teen Presenters attend local sixth grade classrooms and middle schools. These ethnically diverse teens are trained by us to present in a panel format – their choice to be drug free: why they made the choice and how it has contributed to their success in accomplishing their goals. Many of our seniors will be returning to their elementary schools where they first received the challenge to be a Teen Presenter when they became seniors… a very exciting presentation for both young and old students.
- Parent Pledge: “All events for youth in my home will be chaperoned and free of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs.” For twenty years, the Parent Pledge has been distributed to the families of 7th through 12 graders. For the last seven years during Red Ribbon Week, we have included the parents of sixth graders (during Red Ribbon Week) because statistics indicate that drug use often begins at 13, and it is important for parents to discuss with their children their family standards before 13, which the Parent Pledge encourages.
The Enrique Camarena Story for Children
Enrique Camarena never asked to be a hero. All he ever wanted was a chance to make a difference, a chance to somehow help others. But growing up in a poor barrio in Mexico, Kiki must have wondered if he would get those chances.
When Kiki was nine years old, his family moved to San Diego. Kiki worked with the rest of his family in the fields. As he picked peaches and plums, Kiki watched other kids head for school, and he often wondered what it would be like to have a seat on the bus or a seat in a real classroom.
Kiki finally got the chance to go to school, and he became a good student. In high school, he played on the football and basketball teams. He worked on the yearbook. He was even voted "Best All Around Senior".
When Kiki graduated from high school he made a big decision. He saw that his friends were headed for trouble, and Kiki could have followed them. Instead, he worked his way through college and earned a degree in criminal justice.
Kiki served in the Marine Corps. Then he became a fireman, and finally a policeman! And when he saw many of his friends get into trouble because of drugs, he joined the DEA. DEA stands for Drug Enforcement Administration. It's our government's special police force that works to keep drugs from coming into this country.
Kiki knew something had to be done to stop drugs and to help the people he cared about. His mother knew that his work could be very dangerous, and she even tried to talk him out of it. "No", he told her, "even if I'm only one person, I can make a difference."
His mother was right. Kiki's work was often dangerous, and it was lonely too. Old friends turned against him. But Kiki kept on with his fight against drugs.
He was such a good agent that he was sent to work undercover in Mexico. For weeks, Kiki lived among the drug lords. He gathered information and evidence. Just when his work was almost finished, the drug dealers found out who he really was. They kidnapped him. They tortured him. And they killed him. After a month, his body was discovered and returned home to his family.
Kiki gave his life in the fight against drugs. He gave his life trying to help others. To honor Kiki, his family and friends in San Diego wore red ribbons. As his story spread across the country, others began to wear ribbons too. Now, every year millions of Americans celebrate Red Ribbon Week (October 23rd-31st) to remember Kiki and to take a stand - just as he did - against illegal drugs. Kiki set an example for all of us. He showed us how one person can change things. And he became a hero. All Kiki wanted to do was make a difference. We hope somewhere, somehow, he can see what a difference he's still making today.