This year Red Ribbon Week is going to be so different from previous years.
The chances of you delivering all or part of your content to students in a distance learning environment are obviously very high. You’re probably wondering if it’s even possible to offer a curriculum for Red Ribbon Week that would be significant and meaningful since conversations about sensitive topics like substance use normally happen in person. We have been working with students for over two decades in a variety of settings and have learned from the feedback of amazing educators what works and what doesn’t. What we want to recommend for you for Red Ribbon Week is to add an activity at the end of the week, leveraging digital tools like video (Flipgrid is a great tool) or presentations (Google Slides) to give students an opportunity to reflect personally on the importance of making healthy choices.
As you will find in the Red Ribbon Week Playlist, we have five celebrity influencers – each sharing their personal story about finding their own natural high. The latest scientific research speaks to the power of positive example; of engaging influencers to create change in culture, and of course — the power of the natural high. This research shows that when young people find their true passions — those activities that uplift, motivate, and inspire them — and are supported in these choices by family, friends, school, and community, they are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol. Ideally, we would give every student an opportunity to reflect on what makes them come alive. Now though, we know how many students have restrictions on the activities that bring them joy and life. Many team and competitive sports are on some version of a hiatus, as are outdoor activities. Students who are especially social are struggling with the isolation of the social distance mandates.
Here’s what we recommend for Red Ribbon Week: at the end of the week, after watching the videos and engaging with the lesson plans, assign each student to consider their socially distant natural highs. Ask them to reflect on the joys they’ve discovered since the shutdown started back in March. Even if they are small things like taking the family dog for a walk during the day, or spending time with siblings to play games together, we can help students be thoughtful and reflective about the positive assets they’re finding in their lives despite the challenges of the circumstances. Consider assigning the students to share their socially distant natural high(s) through a Flipgrid video or slide presentation, and give each student the chance to share with their peers through breakout rooms. If they are assigned to be reflective, the research shows there’s more chance for them to identify the good, positive parts of their life and realize how choosing the good can lead them down a better path.