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Congrats to the 2020 Red Ribbon Certified Schools

Congratulations to our 2020 Red Ribbon Certified Schools: Eccleston Elementary, Lake Como School and Rock Lake Elementary in Orange County and Redland Middle School in Miami-Dade County.

Becoming a Red Ribbon Certified School is a distinguished achievement for schools focused on prevention and healthy student outcomes.  The UCF Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences at University of Central Florida assessed their performance in four areas: school environment, best practices in education, parent engagement and substance abuse prevention activities. 

“Studies show that in the wake of the pandemic, youth are experiencing an increase in mental health issues like loneliness, depression, anxiety and grief.  We expect to see an increase in alcohol and drug misuse to cope with the secondary effects of Covid-19,” said Peggy Sapp, Informed Families President and CEO.  “The pandemic is highlighting the need for healthy environments and prevention practices as part of school culture. Schools offer more than just academics. They provide support and services to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.  We are so proud of all the schools that recognize the importance of prevention and have gone the extra mile to become Red Ribbon Certified.”

Drug Prevention Events 

Eccleston Elementary, Lake Como School, and Rock Lake Elementary all became Red Ribbon Certified Schools for the first time in 2016. All three opted to reapply once their three year certification term ended.

The teachers and students at both Eccleston and Rock Lake Elementary Schools are active participants in Red Ribbon Week. It is an ideal way for young people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs.

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Strengthening Families 

Lake Como K-8 School kicked off Family Day with their school family enjoying lunch together.

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Many of their parents pledged their commitment to eating dinner together as a family by participating in Informed Families’ Family Day photo contest.  

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Community Involvement 

Redland Middle School hosted a screening of the film LISTEN for their students. The film – which covers issues like bullying, cyber bullying, racism, gang violence and suicide – is a springboard for discussion about mental health awareness, listening and our impact on others.

The educators at their school also worked hard to recruit parents and community members to attend the evening screening and discussion.  

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Please contact Christine Stilwell at cstilwell@informedfamilies.org for more information on becoming a Red Ribbon Certified School.

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2020 Red Ribbon Theme Is Announced

2020 Red Ribbon Theme: Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free.

“I really would like the theme to inspire others for use as their mantra. Bravery is not just for superheroes.

Meet Tricia Nelson, the everyday hero behind the 2020 Red Ribbon theme: “Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free.”

The Red Ribbon Campaign unveiled its new 2020 Red Ribbon Theme, “Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free. ™” today. The theme will be highlighted during Red Ribbon Week®, the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program, taking place each year from October 23 through 31st.

Submitted by Tricia Nelson, a first year Physical Education Teacher at Locust Corner Elementary School in Cincinnati, the theme will help amplify the campaign’s mission to encourage children, families and communities to live healthy, safe and drug-free lives.

Tricia aims to instill hope and strength in her students.

“I often tell my students that they are brave and strong, especially if they are having a hard time with a new activity,” she said.

She emphasized the importance of the Red Ribbon Campaign’s message, which she hopes will resonate when challenges arise.

 “I love how the campaign starts a difficult conversation between students and teachers,” she said. “I hope that when faced with tough decisions, students look back, remember Red Ribbon Week and make healthy choices.”

Last year, Tricia’s students participated in a dress up day called “Sock it to Drugs.” Students also discussed making healthy choices and talked about their future hopes and dreams.

Each year the National Family Partnership (NFP) sponsors the Red Ribbon Theme Contest by inviting Americans across the country to submit a unique slogan that captures the essence and mission of the campaign. Theme submissions are accepted beginning January 1 through December 2. Winners receive national recognition and $500 worth of Red Ribbon Week themed merchandise for their local school.

Red Ribbon theme products can be purchased exclusively from NFP partner NIMCO at www.nimcoinc.com.

Flag Raising Ceremonies for Red Ribbon Certified Schools in Miami

Informed Families presented Homestead Middle School with their Red Ribbon Certified School flag on October 23, 2019. Prevention consultant Heather Vollono thanked Ms. Andriea Harrell for her leadership in helping the school become certified, and Principal Contessa Bryant and the Creating Community Change: Youth Engagement Program students who work hard to make their school and community a better place.

Students from the Creating Community Change: Youth Engagement Program at Homestead Middle School proudly accept their Red Ribbon Certified School flag.

Citrus Grove Middle School raised their Red Ribbon Certified School flag for the first time following a small ceremony on November 18, 2019.

Citrus Grove Middle School raised their Red Ribbon Certified School flag following a small ceremony for students in the Creating Community Change: Youth Engagement Program.

““The Red Ribbon Certified Schools program provides a wonderful opportunity to honor schools that utilize the Red Ribbon Campaign and other effective prevention strategies year round to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug-free,” says Peggy Sapp, President & CEO of Informed Families. “All of our Red Ribbon Certified Schools so just that – and involve the entire community of students, parents, administrators and local citizens in the process. That is prevention at its best.”

The 2019 Red Ribbon Certified Schools in Miami-Dade County were also recognized at the FIU vs. Old Dominion football game on November 2, 2019. Students and their families were invited to attend the game for free. The students were invited on the field to watch the players warm up pre-game, and Brownsville, Citrus Grove and Homestead Middle Schools were recognized during half-time.  Thanks to head Coach Butch Davis and Coach Vollono for supporting drug free schools!

The 2019 Red Ribbon Certified Schools in Miami-Dade County were recognized
at the FIU vs. Old Dominion football game on November 2, 2019.

2019 Red Ribbon Certified Schools Recognized

Informed Families newly-designated 2019 Red Ribbon Certified Schools include: Brownsville Middle School, Citrus Grove Middle School and Homestead Middle School in Miami-Dade County, FL; West Orange High School and Cypress Creek High School in Orange County, FL; and North Atlanta High School in Fulton County, GA.

The Red Ribbon Certified Schools in both Miami-Dade and Orange Counties received special recognition during the October School Board meetings in their respective counties.

School Board member Dr. Lawrence Feldman recognized Informed Families and the newly-designated Red Ribbon Certified Schools in Miami-Dade County

School Board member Dr. Lawrence Feldman issued a proclamation recognizing Informed Families for helping children grow up safe, healthy and drug-free through initiatives such as Red Ribbon Week. He also congratulated Brownsville, Citrus Grove, and Homestead Middle Schools for being named 2019 Red Ribbon Certified Schools.

In Orange County, Informed Families Program Director Christine Stilwell was invited to recognize Cypress Creek and West Orange High Schools on becoming Red Ribbon Certified at the School Board meeting. Informed Families Prevention Consultant Sharon Warner presented the schools with a Red Ribbon Certified School flag and a plaque.

Dr. W. John Hale, principal of Cypress Creek High School; Sheena Montgomery (application lead); Sharon Warner, prevention consultant with Informed Families

 North Atlanta High School is the first school in the state of Georgia to become Red Ribbon Certified. The school plans to celebrate the recognition during Red Ribbon Week.

Becoming a Red Ribbon Certified School is a distinguished achievement shared with less than 100 schools nationwide.  The award celebrates their success in the following four areas (independently evaluated by the UCF Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences at University of Central Florida): school environment, best practices in education, parent engagement and substance abuse prevention activities.

Q & A with North Atlanta High School parent Vernetta Head

What is your role at North Atlanta High School?

I’m a parent in the PTSA at North Atlanta High School where my son is now a senior. I’ve been a PTSA member for four years and serve as the Drug Awareness chair.

Why did you apply to become a Red Ribbon Certified School?

My dad worked for Atlanta Public Schools for 35 years and a lot of that time was spent in what some would call an ‘inner city’ school.  As a result, I met a lot of his students and heard a lot about what was happening in the schools.  At some point he became responsible for the APS Drug-Free Schools program and at home we started calling him ‘Drug Czar’ because of that immense responsibility.  So you can see that I come by it honestly.

When I was in college, a classmate of mine was using drugs. I had to make the difficult decision to call her parents so they could get her help. I thought I’d lost a friend, but when I ran into her several years later she thanked me for saving her life. 

Everyone has been impacted by drugs or drug use in some way, even if it’s not their immediate family.  As a parent, it was important for me to do all I could to help my son and his peers be aware of the dangers of drug use and how to support each other in saying ‘No’. I couldn’t think of a better way than by becoming a Red Ribbon Certified School.

What drug awareness activities did you coordinate at North Atlanta High School?

We coordinated three big events, but we also did a lot of smaller things that were just as impactful. The smaller things, like morning announcements, were more under the radar but I believe the information we provided will help our students make informed decisions in the future. Some teens are going to experiment with substance use. There is a big difference between experimenting when you have information and experimenting without information. We try to provide as much information as possible.

We hosted a Red Ribbon Experience during Red Ribbon Week as one of our larger events. The local fire department did an accident simulation; a 911 operator did a simulated call related to a drug overdose; and a parent who lost their child to an overdose spoke with the students.

What is your favorite memory from the past year’s drug awareness activities?

During Red Ribbon Week, we set up a table in the cafeteria at lunch time, gave out candy and pledge cards. We also had a large pledge banner that students could sign. Our football team ran through the banner to kick off the game that evening.

I believe this event was successful because we didn’t force the students to participate. They were able to stop by and sign a pledge if they chose to.  This activity showed us that the students actually were listening to the message.

What was the Red Ribbon Certified School application process like?

It was challenging until I spoke to a school administrator and found the right resources to get the information I needed for the application. I learned a lot about our school in the process from active shooter drills to available resources to help our community in any given situation.

North Atlanta High School is the first school in the state of Georgia to become Red Ribbon Certified.

This is only the beginning for us. Now that I understand how to apply, I plan to get the middle school and the six elementary schools in our cluster Red Ribbon Certified as well and then spread it to the rest of our system.  My hope is that within two to three years all schools in the Atlanta Public Schools system will be certified.

Red Ribbon Week
Plant the Promise
Red Ribbon Week Banner
Pledge Wall