Johnson County celebrates Red Ribbon WeekBy: Paula Walter
The week of October 27 through November 2, 2013 marks the 10th year the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition has recognized Red Ribbon Week, an event sponsored by the National Family Partnership. In 1985, Enrique, also known as Kiki, Camarena was a drug enforcement agent in Mexico. He was kidnapped, shoved into a car and his tortured body was found one month later. In response to Camarena’s death, both parents and youth across the United States began wearing red ribbons to raise nationwide awareness of the devastation and death the use of drugs can cause. Red Ribbon Week not only serves as a reminder to educate the public on the dangers associated with drug use, but also to encourage participation in drug prevention activities in communities across the nation.
This year, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, as well as members of Students Against Destructive Decisions, (SADD) will coordinate events in the community as well as the schools in the county. They not only provide information on illegal drugs, but they also advocate against the use of alcohol and tobacco. Red ribbons will be distributed to businesses along Main Street. The local Burger King will also participate in the countywide endeavor as they hand out ribbons to customers at their drive-in windows. “I want to target as many areas of the community as I can,“ said Denise Woods, prevention coordinator with the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition.
October 27th has been designated as Pray for the Children Weekend. The A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition will be passing out bulletin inserts to be given out at churches around the county. The organization will also be working hand in hand with the local police to distribute information at the Trunk or Treat at First Christian Church. They will also be decorating one of the patrol cars. First Baptist Church will put out a display with 1,062 ribbons on it, representing those who died from drug overdose in Tennessee in 2011.
Each of the elementary schools will be participating in Red Ribbon Week with a different theme each day. Monday is Sock it to Drugs Day where the students may wear crazy socks to school. On Tuesday, children will celebrate Turn Your Back on Drugs Day where students can wear their clothes backwards. On Wednesday, students will wear their favorite sneakers for the Don’t Let Drugs Sneak Up on You Day. Thursday’s theme is Join Our Drug Free team and students can wear their favorite sport’s team shirt or jersey. Friday is designated as Red Day and all students may dress in red attire. All schools will have a large red banner and each of the classroom doors will be covered in red ribbons. Students at the middle school may find a list of the weekly events found inside the bathroom stall doors.
Students at the high school will have the opportunity to sign a banner stating that they will not use drugs. The Grim Reaper will make an appearance to remind students that someone dies every 53 minutes from a drug or alcohol related car crash. He will target different students throughout the day. Once they are chosen by the Grim Reaper, they will be silent for the rest of the day and carry a sign stating they died at a specific time due to a car crash involving alcohol or drugs.
The A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition will also be distributing permanent drug disposal boxes at various locations throughout the county, including pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Currently, people can take expired, unused or unwanted drugs to the sheriff’s department 24 hours a day, seven days a week as a drug disposal unit is housed in the lobby. No questions are asked. You may not dispose of needles or illegal drugs.
The use of drugs has taken its toll on Americans. The A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition is an integral part of the community in the fight against drug abuse and they continue to keep Johnson Countians up to date on new drugs that surface. According to Woods, krokodil, pronounced crocodile, is an addictive opioid that is three times stronger than heroin and its use has been reported to be on the rise. The drug causes severe damage to both the veins and soft tissue, causing gangrene. Krokodil is injected and it does not dissolve in the blood. As it travels to different parts of the body, it causes damage to soft tissue, and users suffer bone infections, sore and ulcers on the face, along with kidney and liver damage. At this time, there are no actual confirmed cases of the drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, although there have been several patients that have exhibited symptoms consistent with the use of krokodil.