All You Need For Red Ribbon Week – Free! Plus Tips!

If you’re an educator, you’re probably looking for Red Ribbon Week ideas for October.  Take a deep breath and relax. We have 3 tips and then an introduction to SmartZone - now a free digital download with all you need for a successful Red Ribbon Week.

What you are about to discover are not just activities BUT activities that automatically culminate into an assembly.

Here are our top three tips to keep in mind for National Red Ribbon Week:

3 Tips for Red Ribbon Week (#3 is awesome!)

1. When working with older kids, don’t shame!

During grades 6-8, the norm is conformity. According to Teaching Tolerance, a common fear for kids between the ages of 11 and 13 is being different.

When kids are more worried about “fitting in”, they are looking for direction now. No amount of group "door decorating" will prevent drug abuse for these children who will fade into the background. Activities should be inclusive.

Teacher Tip: 

Always ask for consent when sharing personal stories (even positive ones) with the class at large, especially on social media.

Don’t assume that every preteen is interested in participating in public activities such as "Hat Day" during Red Ribbon Week. To give kids a choice about how they talk about drugs and alcohol, collect ideas from them first.

Similarly, just because someone didn’t wear red on "Wear Red Day", doesn’t mean they don’t understand the importance of Red Ribbon Week. Put the message you want to send out there, instead of focusing on a cutesy promotional idea.

disinterested student
How to include my input?

2. Plug into the imagination of students!

Red Ribbon Week is celebrated to build positive associations with drug prevention. For most students, the best way to incorporate some fun is with their own imagination and creativity.

Try to foster engagement into Red Ribbon Week Activities.

Get the whole classroom involved by asking students to create a decorative desk collage of prevention messaging. They can use sticky notes, photos, original drawings or even 3-D images. Have a contest for the most original, most thought-provoking etc. Build classroom discussion around the messaging.

3. Encourage healthy habits

Students love to hear about what they’re doing right. (That’s not exclusive to students! Set expectations about positive behavior early, so that you can cheer them on when they demonstrate healthy behaviors.

Many teachers get better results when they award students for good habits. Intrinsic motivation works just as well for academic success as it does emotional and social success! The best thing you can do to prepare your children for a drug-free lifestyle is to show them the benefit of a “natural high”.

    Get Students Into Prevention's "SmartZone"

Not sure how to teach adolescents and teens healthy behaviors? We wrote a book on it - literally.  Our nonprofit's SmartZone Activity Workbook for grades 5-9, is really the only Red Ribbon Week tool you need. Best is, this tool will be perfect this year, next year and so on. You will finally have the recipe for Red Ribbon Week for years to come.

Welcome to the SmartZone.  Use this activity workbook to teach seven healthy behaviors in a most unusual way. You can even use our 'formula; to easily add more healthy behaviors too. The SmartZone workbook takes a deep dive into these seven healthy behaviors:

1.  Volunteering         2. Accepting Responsibility          3. Showing Appreciation              4.  Making Time For Family
5. "Helping At Home         6.  "Seeing Beyond The Next 10 Minutes" - Making Choices    7.  Making Friends Who Are Drug-Free

One healthy behavior is assigned to a classroom and the behavior attributes are described for students. Then it is time for problem-solving!  Each behavior is accompanied by a partially written script describing a scenario that poses an issue that needs a solution. The challenge to students is to complete the script incorporating the healthy behavior into the "problem-solving" solution. Teachers, feel free to copy the worksheets in the SmartZone for these exercises.

Creative students will jump in to offer script ideas using their best "Steven Spielberg ideas".  The quiet students, who are always reluctant to contribute, can work together to generate ideas and then draw an icon to emulate the message of the finished script. The icon has an important role too, as SmartZone will describe.

Now for the assembly! Bring the classrooms together to act out their finished script in a student assembly.  Want to "supersize" the assembly?  Repeat it in an evening and invite parents to come see their child perform.  Create a program that acknowledges the contribution students made.  If you send us photos of your assembly, we will post on our site and Facebook and more platforms.  Get famous for drug prevention!

Want to take SmartZone beyond Red Ribbon Week?  The workbook will tell you how to do just that!
If you would like the SmartZone Power Point to show staff:
Email: to request this additional tool.


SmartZone Activity Book

SmartZone Activity Workbook

SmartZone Activity workbook for grades 5 - 9 makes meaningful prevention planning easy. The activities guide students to use healthy behaviors to react to problems that good choices can solve.

SmartZone hardcopy is $20  on Amazon

SmartZone digital version is free for a limited time!  Request the FREE download from our webpage.


The SmartZone also includes a brief, but very important ‘homework assignment’ for parents & caregivers.
This homework assignment helps adults talk about the importance of being drug-free with their kids.
When the positive message of healthy coping skills is enforced at home, kids are far more likely to stay sober in their teenage years.

Visit the School section of the nonprofit CANDLE, Inc.'s website for more prevention tools. We have Vaping Toolkits that test for four substances. Plus there's more!  To request a free private consultation to help meet the needs of your district beyond Red Ribbon Week Email: or phone 724-679-1788.

Community Action Network for Drug-free Lifestyle Empowerment, Inc.  (CANDLE, Inc.) is a community partner of and has a platinum rating on GuideStar's CANDID.  The nonprofit has also received "Top-Rated" status from for the past 8 yrs.  EIN -71-0962470.  CANDLE, Inc.'s parent/child Reality Tour drug prevention program has received national awards and is replicated in 9 states.


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Norma Norris

Norma Norris is the Executive Director of the nonprofit CANDLE, Inc.. EIN 71-0962470. Mrs. Norris has been a civic leader all her adult life. She and her husband Charles raised their three sons in Butler, PA. In an effort to preserve the integrity of her community, when heroin first appeared in early 2000, Norma created the parent/child drug prevention program called Reality Tour that is now replicated in the U.S. Her talents have progressed as well as her influence in the prevention field.