5 Ways to incorporate Red Ribbon Week into your classroom

The official Red Ribbon website states an incredible fact: "Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don't, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations".

That is why it is very important to include all parental figures – including teachers - in early education and addiction prevention programmes such as the Red Ribbon Week. 

Here are some engaging ideas to incorporate into your classroom on the upcoming Red Ribbon Week.

Decorate classroom with red ribbons

Without any prior explanation, ask your students to bring red ribbons to the classroom and then decorate it together.

Once you finish with decorating, tell your children that each ribbon represents a person who is struggling with addiction. Like ribbons, all people are beautiful in their own way, even when their situation is tied up.

This way you can start a conversation about drugs, drug abuse, and addiction with your students. You can sit in a circle and hear what they know about drug addiction. Although the conversation should be spontaneous, you can use a pre-written direction to keep yourself on track.

The ribbon talk can serve as an intro for the Red Ribbon Week. The ribbons will always remind students of real people that have fallen victims or are strugling with addiction, which will help them empathise.

Lesson on drugs and addiction

In a week dedicated to the prevention of addiction, lessons on the topics of drugs are unavoidable. The Red Ribbon Week website offers programmes for different age groups, and you can draw upon these to create lessons for your students according to their age.

Remember that it is always more engaging if a lesson begins with a real story or a case study. Personalizing lessons is a way to make them more real and "alive", instead of pamphlet-like, which goes a long way in conveying the messages you are trying to get across.

Educational movie time

There are plenty of movies that deal with the subject of addiction, from open-source documentary resources, to movies you can watch with older students, such as Requiem For A Dream. With films, it is important to carefully pick the right film for the right student age group, to avoid ridicule in older students, as well as exposure to traumatic content in younger students.

Essays about a celebrity's struggle with addiction

Many celebrities have struggled with addiction. Some have lost their struggle (e.g. Amy Winehouse), and some have managed to recover (e.g. Trent Reznor). Form a list of five celebrities that students can choose to write about. Children's interest in pop culture will inevitably lead to engaging essays that draw a lot of attention and debate.

Write a song

Slogans are a big part of Red Ribbon Week. You can use previous slogans for an inspiration to write a song as a collective effort. It is a nice way to sum up everything you've learned during Red Ribbon Week. A song that they have invented will stick with children longer than a song that they can learn from another source, and it is something they can always be reminded of as they're trying to have a drug-free journey through life.

Or if you are looking for a low prep option why not check out my Red Ribbon Week Fact Booklet on Drugs as pictured below.

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