How did Red Ribbon Week start? It started with a true life story about a federal agent named Kiki Camarena. He had a passion to end substance abuse and crime in the USA. Read his story here. Copy and paste and share this story with your students during Red Ribbon Week as long as you give credit to the author. The questions at the end of the story help teachers to tie this into multiple subject areas.
The Meaning of Red Ribbon Week
When Kiki Camarena was young, he decided to join the Marines. After serving his country as a Marine, he joined the police force. His career brought him further when he next joined the Drug Enforcement Agency as an agent for the government of the United States. He felt this was the best thing to do because he truly cared about helping people and stopping drugs. His mother was very concerned about Kiki’s career path and the dangers of his job. She tried to talk him out of it. Kiki told his mother that in his heart he could not quit his work. He said, “I’m only one person, but I want to make a difference.”
In 1985, the DEA sent Kiki to work undercover in Mexico. For weeks he lived among the drug cartel and gathered information and evidence. He was ready to wrap up his assignment when the drug dealers figured out what he was up to. They discovered his identity. He was kidnapped and tortured to death.
People that knew Kiki felt sorrow when they learned of his death. To honor his memory, friends and neighbors wore red badges of satin. They wanted to continue Kiki’s work against illegal drugs. Parents who worked together in local coalitions to fight against the drug problem made Kiki their model. They embraced his belief that one person could make a difference. They adopted the symbol of the red ribbon as their own.
From this grass roots beginning grew Red Ribbon Week. This is held the last week of October nationwide. In Jacksonville, Florida we campaign against drugs and work hard to warn children and students in school about the dangers and effects of drug use. When you see red ribbons around Jacksonville and our country, we hope you will remember the story of Kiki and others like him who work hard to “Say No to Drugs.”
By Grace Wilhelm
- What is the DEA?
- How and why was Kiki murdered?
- What did Kiki tell his mother about why he wanted to work against drugs?
- What does working undercover mean in the second paragraph?
- What does the phrase “wrap up his assignment” mean in the second paragraph?
- Write two sentences to describe the career path of Kiki Camarena. Tell what jobs he held after high school and why he chose those jobs.
- What is a coalition? (in the third paragraph)
- What will you now think of when you see a red ribbon?
- Do you think it is important to say “no” to drugs? Tell why or why not.
- Where is Mexico?
- What are some ill effects of drugs on your body?
The Meaning of Red Ribbon Week
1. Abbreviations – Drug Enforcement Agency
2. Recall – Kiki was kidnapped and tortured because drug dealer discovered he was working for the police
3. Recall – Kiki told his mother he wanted to make a difference
4. Idiom – in secret, using a different identity
5. Idiom – to finish it
6. Sequence - Marines – to serve his country, Police Force, and DEA – to help people and to stop drugs
7. Vocabulary – special groups that work together for a reason
8. Inference – different student responses
Blood that Kiki shed, the story of Kiki, to say no to drugs
9. Opinion – different written responses with a reason
10. Mexico is our neighbor on the southern border of the United States.
11. Headaches, loss of esteem, loss of weight, diseases, cancer, blood problems, stomach aches, sweating, loss of memory, inability to concentrate, loss of sleep or cannot wake up, coma, death