October is Red Ribbon Month, and schools typically celebrate Red Ribbon Week during the last week of October. This year, Red Ribbon Week is October 23–31. Whether your school pulls out all the stops for Red Ribbon Week or you’re throwing together a last-minute plan, don’t miss the opportunity to market your school.
Why do we classify Red Ribbon Week as an opportunity to market your school? Because your key stakeholders—parents and community members—care that your school is providing a well-rounded education to students, and that includes, among other things, how to make responsible decisions. Another element of marketing also includes encouraging parent engagement and community involvement. The National Red Ribbon Campaign makes it easy for schools to incorporate drug prevention education into its curriculum and engage communities to participate.
Many of our public schools (and even private and charter schools) make “Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)” a big deal. Frequently in education, as we speak with parents and the communities, we rattle this phrase off as if everyone understands what we’re talking about. SEL framework starts with principles taught in classroom instruction, relates it to schoolwide practices and policies, and then encourages family and community partnerships to reinforce those principles. Red Ribbon Week is an opportunity to tie a big event to that amorphous phrase to help our stakeholders understand what we really mean when we say, “we’re invested in the social emotional learning of our students.” Red Ribbon Week can be an excellent example in action.
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Plan Your Red Ribbon Week
The National Family Partnership (formerly the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth) works hard every year to bring ideas, resources, and material to help schools conduct a successful Red Ribbon Week. The 2017 National Red Ribbon Week Theme is, “Your Future is Key, so Stay Drug Free.” There’s no point in spending time and resources on additional school marketing material for this week when so much has already been done for you. Visit the RedRibbon.org website for a host of free downloads. You’ll find a planning guide to help your school plan activities and involve your community, an infographic and fact sheet to share important information, and even curriculum suggestions for all the grade levels.
On the RedRibbon.org website, you’ll also find activities and contests. Because the organization has 30+ years experience, your school can easily find activities to engage your school community. There is a photo contest that you can participate in as a school or encourage families to participate in on their own. And you can encourage your students and staff to enter the theme contest for next year’s Red Ribbon theme.
If you have the Marketing Your School toolkit, refer to week 13 for step-by-step guidance in making the most of our your Red Ribbon Week plans.
Other Campaigns & School Marketing Opportunities
The National Family Partnership and Red Ribbon Week is by far one of the most recognizable campaigns when it comes to helping to keep youth drug free, but there are other programs and campaigns your school can use to not only keep students healthy and safe, but to also engage parents and the community and market your schools.
Drug & Alcohol Prevention
Natural High’s mission is to inspire and empower youth to find their natural high and develop the skills and courage to live life well. They specialize in powerfully told stories and lessons aimed at changing the lives of youth by helping them to stay drug and alcohol-free and find their “natural high.”
National Bullying Prevention Month is also in October. It is a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.
StopBullying.gov also provides resources for bullying prevention at schools.
NetSmartz Workshop, created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, is one of the best websites with resources for keeping students and children safe online. See week 35 in your Marketing Your School toolkit for more on school online safety.
Katie Brooks, School Public Relations Manager