The 2016 Richland College Red Ribbon Week brought information and outreach opportunities to help students stay drug free. The week-long event, Oct. 24 to 28, served as a memorial for DEA agent Enrique Camarena, who was slain while undercover investigating a multimillion dollar drug cartel in Chihuahua, Mexico. The red ribbons signify solidarity against the negative influence of illegal drugs and, by proxy, the violent cartels that back them.
“People need to be aware that they only have one life,” Richland Student and volunteer Victorine Akoma said. “If they don’t have anyone they can talk to or enough information or resources, we can help. If they want to be drug free, I want to help give them someone to talk to.”
To become a part of the event, students pledged to remain drug free.
“It’s not just an event for students who are currently abusing drugs and need help,” Martha Burgess, Richland College nurse said, “but it’s also for students who are drug free and pledge to stay that way. If just one student sees their friends participating, they’ll create a more drug-free environment together.”
“A big part of therapy is keeping them accountable,” Akoma continued. “It’s not just in them to be isolated and alone.”
The volunteers provide ribbons, pins and stickers for pledging and students are entered into a raffle for prizes like T-shirts and headphones.
Though the event has been a nationwide event since 1988, Richland takes its own steps in combating illicit drug use and promoting general public health initiatives like free HIV screenings, partnerships with the Richland College Police Department to raise awareness about the adverse effects of drug and alcohol abuse. They recently ran a donation drive to benefit the patients and children of patients at the Phoenix House Rehab in Dallas.