Red Ribbon Week Ideas

If you’re an educator, you’re probably looking for Red Ribbon Week ideas for 2021. Here’s the beauty (and the challenge) of Red Ribbon Week messages… you’re not gonna please everyone. 

But, if you prepare lots of alternatives, stay positive, and think creatively, you’re sure to impress students, parents, and other staff this October 23. Still scratching your head? We’ve got your top three ideas for National Red Ribbon Week 2021.

3 Ideas for Red Ribbon Week in Your School

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 door decorating will prevent drug abuse for these children. As an adult, try not to put middle schoolers on the spot. Instead, offer preventive support. 

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. 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.

2. Get students active!

Red Ribbon Week is celebrated so that we can build positive associations with drug prevention. For most children, the best way to incorporate some fun is with free play.

 Try to bring movement into your Red Ribbon Week Activities. Many schools do a Shade Out Drugs Day and wear sunglasses. What a great excuse to get outside!  

This year, the national theme is “Drug-Free Looks Like Me.” Get the whole classroom involved by asking them to decorate the bulletin board or their desk. Then, you can enter the Red Ribbon photo contest for a chance to win $1,000 for your school.

3. Encourage healthy habits

Students love to hear about what they’re doing right. (Well, maybe that’s not exclusive to students…) Set expectations about positive behavior early, so that you can cheer them on when they demonstrate anti-drug behavior. 

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 Your School in the Smart Zone

Not sure how to teach young teenagers healthy coping skills and prosocial behavior? We wrote a book on it. Literally. 

SmartZone Activity Book

SmartZone Workbook

Our 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.

The book makes planning Red Ribbon Week a breeze. It is available for only $15 online.

The book 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.

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Norma Norris

Norma Norris, Reality Tour developer and Executive Director of CANDLE, Inc., has been a civic leader throughout the years. Norma 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.

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