Texas Schoolchildren Put Style over Substance Abuse at Capitol Rally Against Drug Use
Red Ribbon Rally Draws Hundreds to Kick off National Red Ribbon Week
October 15, 2015
Texas students gathered at the State Capitol today to declare, “Drugs Aren’t My Style,” as part of the 18th annual Red Ribbon Rally. Wearing rally T-shirts and sunglasses, more than 1,100 fifth- and sixth-graders pledged not to abuse drugs.
The students travelled from the Corpus Christi, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin areas to take part in the rally that serves as the statewide kickoff to Red Ribbon Week, the nation’s oldest and largest drug awareness campaign. This year, Red Ribbon Week will be observed through school and community events across Texas Oct. 23-31.
This year’s rally comes as overall drug use among Texas youth declines. The Texas Department of State Health Services’ School Survey of Substance Abuse found that from 2012 to 2014 the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs among Texas youth decreased. However, abuse of prescription drugs among youth remained fairly steady, and many areas saw a rise in the use of e-cigarettes, also known as “vaping,” and synthetic marijuana.
“Efforts like the Red Ribbon Rally raise awareness about the dangers of using drugs,” said Lauren Lacefield Lewis, DSHS assistant commissioner for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “Helping young people understand the negative effects drugs can have on their lives is one of the best ways we can continue to decrease drug use in Texas.”
Today’s rally featured performances and remarks from rapper Police I.C.E., the Texas Children’s Choir, Col. Suzanne Adkinson of the Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force and HYPE (Helping Youth Prevention through Entertainment), a San Antonio youth dance troupe that encourages teens to stay drug- and alcohol-free. Members of the Texas Challenge Academy, a volunteer program for at-risk teens, led the march up the Capitol’s south lawn.
After the rally, students moved to the Texas House and Senate chambers where they held mock legislative sessions and voted on drug- and alcohol-related resolutions they drafted at school before coming to the Capitol.
The Red Ribbon initiative began as a grassroots movement to honor the memory of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in 1985 by drug traffickers in Mexico.
The Red Ribbon Rally is made possible through funding from DSHS. Other sponsors include the AT&T Pioneers, Texas Military Forces, Texas Children’s Choir, HYPE Youth Dance Troupe, Bay Area Alliance for Youth and Families, San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Dallas) and The Partnership for a Drug-Free Texas.
(News Media Contact: Chris Van Deusen, DSHS Press Officer, 512-776-7753)
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