On Friday, sixth grade students at Neosho Middle School learned the origin of Red Ribbon Week and were urged to say no to drugs during a special assembly presented by Adult and Teen Challenge of the Four States, The Neosho Freeman Family YMCA, and the Newton County Community Coalition.

Four assemblies, each with about 200 students, were provided during the day.

Students had the opportunity to complete a questionnaire in advance that dealt with both physical fitness and substance abuse.

Ben Coffey, CEO of the local YMCA, began the program by discussing the surveys and challenging students to spend an hour a day in exercise. He also asked how many students wear a helmet while biking and

Jeff Higgins, Director of Adult and Teen Challenge in Neosho, shared with students how Red Ribbon Week began.

"I'd like to tell you a story," he said. "Red Ribbon Week is not just about 80 million kids caring about health and drugs across the country. It's a lot more than that. Red Ribbon Week is actually a memorial. It's actually a story. The story is about one person and his name was Enrique. He was born in California and he was born in a poor neighborhood, in a poor home. He said "I'm going to make a difference in my world." He was determined to make a difference, to finish school."

Enrique graduated from high school and joined the Marines. He served in Vietnam and became a police officer in the area where he'd grown up in California. Eventually he became a DEA officer and also married and had three sons

Higgins explained that Red Ribbon Week was started after the death of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who in 1985 was brutally tortured and murdered by drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico.  As a tribute to SA Camarena, high school friend, Henry Lozano and Congressman Duncan Hunter, created “Camarena Clubs” and the wearing of a red ribbon to show their oppositions to drugs. 

In 1988, the National Family Partnership coordinated the first National Red Ribbon Week with President and Mrs. Reagan serving as honorary Chairpersons.  Since then, the Red Ribbon campaign has taken on national significance, and NFP continues to coordinate the campaign for families, schools and communities across the nation each year.  Wearing red ribbons during the month of October continues to represent our pledge to live drug free and honors the sacrifice of all who have lost their lives in the fight against drugs.

Red Ribbon Week ,which is celebrated annually October 23-31, is the nation’s oldest and largest

In 1988, the National Family Partnership coordinated the first National Red Ribbon Week with President and Mrs. Reagan serving as honorary Chairpersons.  Since then, the Red Ribbon campaign has taken on national significance, and NFP continues to coordinate the campaign for families, schools and communities across the nation each year.  Wearing red ribbons during the month of October continues to represent our pledge to live drug free and honors the sacrifice of all who have lost their lives in the fight against drugs.

Zach Norris, Director of Development at Adult and Teen Challenge of the Four States in Neosho, also shared his personal story. He told students that he began to make wrong choices when he was their age and that those choices, which included smoking, led to drug addiction and years he says now were wasted. Thanks to the program at Teen Challenge, Norris explained how he was able to turn his life around and urged students to make good choices now.

Adult and Teen Challenge is dedicated to helping men 18 years and older who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.